Duel in the Wastelands – 曠野の決闘
Whoa what an episode. I have been complaining about its slow start but SAO II is right back on track now and within one episode, we got to the final round of F block, Sinon vs Kirito.
Kirito gets away from Death Gun without revealing whether he was the same Kirito in Sword Art Online, but Death Gun swears to kill Kirito all the same. Seeing the emblem of Laughing Coffin sent Kirito into an extremely traumatised state and he wasn’t fearing just death, it was the memories of what happened in Aincrad haunting him – the memories of having killed three players in an attempt to save the players of the lead group. His flashback tells us that the lead group once wiped out the Laughing Coffin guild during the SAO days. It was a hellish fight in which thirty players’ lives were lost, out of which, three were killed by Kirito. Although he has been trying very hard to forget the terrible experience, seeing the emblem of Laughing Coffin revived all the feelings of fear and guilt within Kirito. Though I thought that the focus of this episode would be on Kirito, getting back onto his feet, he went positively berserk during his next round in BoB, proving to us that there is indeed something very seriously wrong with him.
Before we know it, both Kirito and Sinon are facing each other on the battlefield and to Sinon’s confusion, Kirito doesn’t seem to have any intention of dodging the bullets from her Hecate. As a result, none of her shots hit Kirito and for a moment, I thought that it was all part of Kirito’s plan – to confuse the enemy before winning the round. Nah, our hero isn’t that sort who would kill a woman. As he is only interested to participate in the Grand Tournament on the next day, there was no need for him to defeat Sinon. When Sinon hears of this, she got really mad because she had been taking this fight seriously.
It’s just a game, it’s just a single match, but that’s exactly why we have to give it our all. If we don’t, this world loses its meaning and we lose the right to live in this world.
Kirito realises how he has been trampling over Sinon’s pride as a gamer and arranges for a “rematch”, one that will start once the bullet he throws hits the ground. In a match where Kirito is obviously at a disadvantage, Sinon couldn’t resist agreeing to the conditions set by Kirito because she wanted to find out what plan he has in mind. The bullet hit the ground and the rematch started. There was no plan. Kirito, in one confident swing, cut Hecate’s bullet cleanly into two and it was his win. His consecutive wins have been based on his wonderful swordsmanship but this match really showed the players of GGO, including Death Gun, just how skilled Kirito is with swords.
After her lose, Sinon broke down asking Kirito to teach her how to get stronger. Kirito reveals the scar in his heart by saying that he isn’t as strong, because he can’t kill anyone for the sake of saving others anymore. The feeling that Sinon had after the first preliminary round was right, Kirito is similar to her in a lot of ways. Both of them had to kill in order to protect their loved ones and both are still traumatised by the ordeal of having committed a crime. I feel that Asuna is a litle left out in this season, but honestly, I prefer Sinon so I’ll refrain from making any snide remarks about Kirito holding another girl for what felt like longer than necessary.
Gaaaaah even though this episode didn’t end with a cliffhanger, it felt as though it had. The use of OST to hype up the tension throughout the episode was brilliant, I especially liked the track during Death Gun and Kirito’s exchange. How the music stopped after Death Gun left was just perfect; it felt like I was being released from some stress and I let out a breath I never knew I was holding. I’m so excited for the next episode and if I weren’t tied down by having to review this show, I would have stopped watching right now just so that I can watch the entire show at a go later. Argh, the suspense.