Subliminal projection forces on gaming political mandates, prejudices and harmful assumptions. Is it time to re-think our critiques? Read more →
Sword Art Online Episode 9 Review: How Not To Raid
In the previous episode, Asuna and Kirito found the boss room and decided to take a look at the boss. Upon seeing the enormous boss, Kirito and Asuna do the one sane and logical thing that anybody would do; run as fast as they can in the opposite direction. Kirito and Asuna discuss what they saw, determining the basic outline of a strategy that might work against the boss. Before they take a break to eat some lunch, Asuna asks Kirito why he doesn’t use a shield. It is clear that Kirito is hiding something, since he isn’t using the sword that was made for him by Lisbeth. I get the feeling that this is related to something that will come up later.
So Aincrad is a small world after all, as Klein and his guild happen to enter the safe zone of the dungeon and encounter Kirito and Asuna. Klein is at a loss for words when he sees Kirito, the solo player, teamed up with Asuna. After a comedic interaction between Klein as he pesters Kirito about partying with a girl, another large group of players show up. They are from the Aincrad Liberation Army, and are lead by Corbatz.
Corbatz demands the others to hand over the map data that will lead to the boss room. Not only that, but he expects to have it given to him for free. Everyone else is against this, but Kirito decides to give him a copy of the data. Ignoring that his men are all completely exhausted, Corbatz orders them to move out toward the boss room. I get the feeling that this won’t end well for the Army. Kirito, Asuna, and Klein decide to go check on the Army to make sure that they don’t recklessly rush the boss.
As they get closer to the boss room, Kirito and Asuna hear a scream. As they arrive at the boss door, they discover that it is wide open and the Army is currently in combat with the boss. Unfortunately for them, they aren’t doing particularly well. The bad news doesn’t end there, the teleport crystals don’t work in the boss room either. Yet, despite how clear it is that the fight is not going well for them, Corbatz chooses to fight rather than retreat. This proves to be a fatal mistake as he gets hit by the boss and dies a few seconds later. You’d think that players would not be so reckless in a game that makes hardcore mode in any other game look like easy mode, yet apparently that isn’t the case.
Soon all of Corbatz’s men would be next to die, but Asuna jumps into to distract the boss. Kirito and Kelin jump into the fight as well. Klein’s guild helps get the rest of the Army out of the boss room. As Kirito impressively manages to somehow block the large blade the boss is using, defying any and all laws of physics that would normally apply, Kirito realizes that the fight will take forever. He ponders on using a certain skill, but seems reluctant at first. But to avoid having a repeat of what happened in episode three, Kirito gives in and activates the skill, dual wielding.
Kirito pulls out the sword made for him by Lisbeth and starts unleashing a storm of attacks on the boss, going progressively faster and faster. After a very impressive fight scene, Kirito kills the boss and passes out on the ground. He wakes up a few seconds later with Asuna watching over him. Apparently Kirito’s health was nearly reduced to zero because of all the damage he took from the boss. As Asuna hugs him, Kirito explains where he got the dual wield skill from. Apparently it ended up in Kirito’s skill list some time ago and he’s been keeping it a secret.
Why keep it a secret? Well basically players in an MMO can get pretty jealous pretty quickly over things that are exclusive to other players that they themselves can never get. Klein and his guild move on to the next floor while Kirito rests with Asuna. Asuna decides that she want’s to take a break from her guild and spend more time with Kirito. Kirito seems to agree with the idea as well. But later the next day, the events that took place in the boss room are revealed to the rest of the players. As a result Kirito has to go into hiding to avoid all the harassment from other sword wielding players and information brokers. So he crashes with Agil for awhile, but then gets a visit from Asuna who seems to be panicking about something.
Kirito and Asuna go to the headquarters of the Knights of the Blood Oath. Where Kirito and Asuna speak with the leader of the guild, Heathcliff. Heathcliff is reluctant to grant Asuna leave, because of her status as being one of the best players in the guild. Although he does come up with a solution, Kirito has to fight him in a duel. If Kirito wins, he can take Asuna with him. But if Kirito loses than he has to join the Knights of the Blood Oath. With the terms of the duel in mind, Kirito agrees to the duel as the episode ends.
It was good to see one of the boss monsters, as we seldom see them in this series. They play such a crucial role in SAO as gate keepers to prevent players from progressing any further, and you’d think they would get more screen time than just the occasional episode. I’ve stated this before, but I’d wish they would slow down the pace and show more of Aincrad and the dangers that players have to face. It would be a much more interesting experience for the viewer if it didn’t feel so rushed. Sure there are still twenty five floors left of Aincrad, but how many of those will the viewer actually see? Stay tuned, the next review will be posted within the week.