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Sword Art Online – Episode 2 Review
Episode 2 takes place one month after the launch of Sword Art Online. As mentioned in my previous review, all the players are still on the first floor and two thousand players have died so far. But then a player named Diabel holds a meeting in the town of Tolbana. He starts off the meeting with good news, he and his party have found the door to the boss room of floor one. The crowd of players unanimously agree to work together to bring down the first boss.
From there, Diabel states the they will all divide into groups of six in order to start a raid group. Everyone manages to find a group to be in, save for Kirito and a mysterious cloaked girl. Left with no other option, Kirito and the girl party up. Upon starting the group, Kirito learns the name of the cloaked girl: Asuna. Before the meeting can continue though, a hotheaded player by the name of Kibaou jumps down onto the stage and starts declaring how they were all left behind by the beta testers who took everything for themselves and left nothing for the everyone else. He claims that they are the reason two thousand people have died so far and that any beta testers among the crowd should give up their items and money to everyone else.
Kibaou is immediately put back in his place by another player named Agil. Agil reminds Kibaou that the beta testers contributed their experience to the guide book that is available for free on the item store, which everyone has access to. His argument invalidated, Kibaou sits back down and Diabel continues the meeting. Using the guidebook, the group identifies the name of the boss and what abilities it has. Once the raid group is familiar with the strategy they agree to wait until the next morning to defeat the boss.
That night, all the players involved with the raid group throw a party in hopes of momentarily forgetting the fact that quite a few of them may die the next morning. Kirito and Asuna sit on their own, eating large rolls of some sort. During this scene, the viewer learns about Asuna’s dedication to surviving in SAO. She doesn’t want to lose track of what is important by hiding in the starting town, waiting for someone to make it to the top of Aincrad and save everyone. No she’d prefer to be on the front lines, even if that results in her getting killed in the process.
The next morning, the raid group heads toward the tower where the boss is located. After a brief morale boosting speech from Diabel, the group enters the boss chamber. The boss, Illfang the Kobold Lord, summons a group of minions and they charge toward the raid group. The majority of the group focuses on fighting the boss while Kirito and Asuna deal with the minions. As the boss reaches critical health, it pulls out a new weapon as depicted in the guide book.
Diabel moves to the front and charges toward the boss. Kirito then notices that the boss pulls out a different weapon that what it was supposed to, based on feedback from the beta. He tries to warn Diabel to get out of the way, but his warning comes too late. Diabel gets fatally wounded and thrown across the chamber. As Kirito tries to give him a potion, it is revealed that Diabel was a beta tester and he was trying to get the killing blow on the boss in order to get the rare bonus item that drops. As he dies, he implores Kirito to beat the boss so that all the other players will be able to make it further into the game.
Kirito and Asuna move in for the kill, and after a little while Kirito manages to land the killing blow on the boss. While everyone celebrates their victory, Kirito receives the bonus item for killing the boss. He is then accused by Kibaou of not warning Diabel in time to avoid getting hit. The group then quickly realizes that Kirito must have been a beta tester, and then suspects that other members of the raid might be beta testers too. In an odd move that probably didn’t win him many friends, Kirito states that the beta testers were all green as grass and could barely figure out how to level up. He then proclaims that he got further into the beta then anyone else.
Kibaou then declares that Kirito was a cheater and then someone in the raid coming up with the word beater, which is meant to be a combination of beta and cheater. Frankly I don’t understand the logic of the word or the thought process behind the players in this scene. Getting further in a beta than most other players does not make someone a cheater, that and beater just sounds weird. Kirito accepts being called a beater, equips his new item, and begins to head toward the stairs that lead to the second floor. Before leaving he encourages Asuna to not go through SAO soloing everything if she can avoid it, and tells her to join a guild if she finds someone that she trusts.
One of the bigger issues in this episode is how people treat beta testers. It just seems odd that there would be such hostility towards them when they have provided all kinds of feedback to help other players. Sure there may be some players that abandoned everyone else, but there were several beta testers who didn’t do that. Kirito and Diabel were right there on the front lines, helping the less experienced players. Do they get any gratitude? Nope. All they got was hostility and mistrust. In a way I guess I’m not surprised why Kirito has been playing solo for most of the first month of the game.
Kirito’s actions in this episode were rather confusing. Was his claim about getting really far into the beta a bluff, or was it the truth? In the first episode, Kirito claimed that he only made it to the eighth floor in two months of the beta. So was he lying to Klein or was he lying about having made it much further than everyone else? Perhaps future episodes will provide some clarification for this confusion, we’ll see.
I’d have to say that the dub is getting a little better. Kirito’s voice has improved somewhat in the second episode, although I wonder if it still sounds too old for the character. Asuna’s voice wasn’t too bad, and Agil had a great voice. Overall there was some good voice over work in this episode, so hopefully that will continue in future episodes.
Overall, Sword Art Online is continuing to hold my interest. This was a great episode, and it wrapped up nicely at the end. I’ll keep going with this series to see where it goes, because if done right this will prove to be a great anime. Time will tell.