Sword Art Online II: Episode 14

A Small Step – 小さな一歩

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With the credits rolling out at the opening scenes, we could feel closure of the GGO chapter coming. The Shinkawa-Death Gun combi gets arrested and it seems that Shino/Sinon has finally overcome her fear of guns irl. However there is still the last perpetuator out at large and all that’s left to do is for the police to track him down and arrest him, right? Easier said than done.

I’m not sure how it was for the other viewers but it was never a cliffhanger for me. The moment Kirito appeared was the moment Shinkawa’s arrest got confirmed. Although Kirito is a good fighter online, he doesn’t seem to be much of a challenge for Shinkawa, who managed to plunge the deadly needle of the syringe into Kirito within minutes. I thought we would be able to watch a more balanced fight, because, didn’t Kirito fight irl against Sugou (SAO bad guy) and won? Perhaps fighting against a crazed and sleep-deprived madman was what gave Kirito the upper hand back then. Once again, Shino knocked out the bad guy and saved Kirito from the dangerous situation he was in. You can always count on Shino to bring the radio down on Shinkawa’s head with all her might when it comes to saving others.

I’ve noticed a mixture of soundtrack from the old SAO and new electronic/synthetic soundtrack but none of the tracks really caught my attention until the opening scene of this episode. The strings matched with the percussion really brought out the urgency and anxiousness associated with that scene and I’m looking forward to hearing that track in the OST. After Shino rescued Kirito, Kirito lay there writhing and wincing in pain for quite a while before we realise that a piece of metal electrode on his chest protected him from the deadly injection. Now my next question is, why was Kirito in pain when the injection didn’t even go through his skin? He might have been reacting out of shock but… I don’t know. I’m just glad Kirito didn’t hug Shino at the end of that scene.

We got to see Shino being really cool in front of those bullies who were extorting money from her; it feels very satisfying to see her overcoming her fear of guns and leaving the bullies speechless. I thought that scene was quite well done, as Shino didn’t overcome her fear immediately and even after forcing herself to do all that, we could see that it took its toll on her. But still, well done Shino, that was the first small step you’ve taken towards freeing yourself from the trauma you’ve been trapped in.

The arrest of the Shinkawa brothers shed more light on the Death Gun case and we learn that there’s one more perpetuator in this case. So this case hasn’t been fully closed yet, oh dear. The idea of “Death Gun” was first born when Shinkawa Senior got his hands on the signature cape via a real money transaction. Together with a pair of binoculars, he began to collect real information about players in a fanatical manner. The Death Gun plan fleshed out when Zexceed (HiroC in episode 1, first victim of Death Gun) revealed the truth about how agility stats aren’t ideal for higher levels although he first encouraged everyone to invest in agility. Now now, that’s the very nice of him, especially when he knew the truth a long time ago and started investing in strength and vitality. Shinkawa Junior, who had put his whole life into GGO, was infuriated and started planning Zexceed’s murder together with his brother. When the plan finally took form, they stole the dangerous drug from their father’s hospital and murdered HiroC’s character, giving birth to the legend of Death Gun. At least, that was the plan. Nobody seemed to be taking this Death Gun as seriously as they were supposed to, so the Shinkawa brothers planned to kill more of the high profile players to achieve their goals.

After their meeting with Kikuoka-san, Kirito brought Shino to meet Asuna and Lizbeth. I wasn’t expecting them to do so much for an almost stranger *coughloverivalcough*. They contacted someone from Shino’s hometown and got her to come over to meet Shino. I was half expecting to see Shino’s mum but I guess she probably isn’t around anymore? This brings to mind the question which is always on everyone’s mind but nobody asks – what happened to Shino’s mother and why is she living alone? Sometimes some questions are better left unanswered. The lady who appeared was the counter lady who had the gun pointed at her during the robbery incident. She gave her heartfelt thanks to Shino, who finally understood how her actions back then were perceived by the people whom she had saved. That’s another small step she took in this episode. I thought it was very cute that the little kid mirrored everything her mother did; that’s one of the little details that make the whole show good.

Although we got a nice wrap to this arc, I still have problems with how Kirito acted here and there. Why didn’t Kirito introduce Asuna as his girlfriend to Shino? I was waiting for the moment when Shino finds out that Kirito has a girlfriend, just because I want to see how she would react to it. Although I’m sure she won’t get a shock and become depressed, part of me still want to see her reaction. The harem of girls has been one of the aspects of SAO which I found less enjoyable and I was glad, for a moment, when SAO II had less girls. But the way Kirito and Sinon behaved together raised quite a few eyebrows and that got me thinking, instead of referring to the arcs as the SAO arc, the ALO arc, the GGO arc, maybe we should switch to the Asuna arc, the Sugu arc and the Sinon arc. With the end of Sinon arc, I wonder what’s coming next.

I haven’t been paying much attention to him but during this episode, Matsuoka Yoshitsugu reminded me of why he was chosen as our Flavour of the Season previously with his great voice acting. I especially enjoyed his emotional rendition during the bar scene when Shino was about to meet the lady. Did you hear his voice trembling?

これが終わりじゃない。終わらせる力はお前にはない。すぐにお前もそれに築かされる。It’s Showtime.
This isn’t the end. You don’t have the power to end it, you’ll be made to realise this soon. It’s showtime.

It definitely isn’t the end and I look forward to the next arc. So far, it hasn’t quite matched up to my expectations, but hopefully SAO II won’t end off like its predecessor did.

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