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Sword Art Online Episode 8 Review: Follow the Rare Rabbit
Episode 8 picks up with Kirito still playing solo on the front lines. Although he manages to take down the giant lizard creature that he is fighting, it is clear that it is rather exhausting to fight alone like that. I don’t see how solo play would be something that would cross anyone’s mind in a game like SAO, but it appears to work well for Kirito. So while Kirito is heading home he spots a creature called a Ragout Rabbit.
After killing the unfortunate rare rabbit, Kirito takes the meat that drops off of it and decides to sell it to Agil on the 50th floor. Apparently the meat in question is a S-Class item, and is both rare and insanely valuable. Supposedly the meat would taste amazing if it is cooked, but it would require a player with a really high cooking skill. Fortunately for Kirito, Asuna walks into the store looking for him and as it turns out she maxed out her cooking skill a week ago. Also, Asuna is being escorted by a bodyguard.
Kirito proposes a trade. He gives her the meat, she cooks it, and she gets a bite of it. Asuna renegotiates it to sharing the meal, and Kirito agrees. I have no idea how Kirito thought that anyone would go for just a bite of a cooked meal, and why he didn’t suggest just sharing the meal in the first place. As they leave the shop, Asuna offers to cook the meat at her house. Her bodyguard, Kuradeel, is not thrilled with the idea of a stranger going to Asuna’s house with her. He especially opposes the idea once he discovers that Kirito is a “beater”. Asuna ignores Kuradeel’s grievances and drags Kirito away by his belt.
In the next scene we see Asuna’s home on the 61st floor. For a home in a virtual reality game, it looks incredibly comfortable. Although it is incredibly expensive, costing roughly four million col for all the furniture and the house as well. Given that the lizard monster Kirito killed at the beginning only dropped one thousand col, I can’t even begin to imagine how long it would take to get enough money to afford a house that expensive. Still, if there was ever a time that player housing was more than just a pointless gimmick (like it is in most MMOs) it would be in SAO.
After Kirito and Asuna change out of their armor, Asuna begins to prepare the meal. I don’t know how a slab of meat on a bone that big came out of the Ragout Rabbit given how small it is, but I can roll with it since it is a virtual reality video game and all. Also, I wish cooking was as easy as it is in SAO. It would be nice if all you needed to do was simply tap a large piece of meat and other foods in order to cut them up and prepare them for a stew.
After dinner, Kirito and Asuna talk about how people are getting adjusted to living in SAO. Apparently out of whatever the remaining population is of the ten thousand players that logged into SAO, only five hundred are actively trying to clear the game. It is almost like people are losing themselves in SAO, forgetting about the real world and not even trying to clear the game. While I can see some people not wanting to face death on the frontlines, I’d think that more than five hundred people would realistically be out there trying to get back home to the real world even after being stuck in the game for two years.
Asuna talks to Kirito about his tendency to solo, warning him about the dangers of going solo since enemies are getting progressively tougher. Kirito says that party members would get in the way, which results in him getting threatened by Asuna with a knife, and of course Kirito corrects his statement saying that Asuna doesn’t get in the way. Asuna then declares that the two of them will be in a party for the next day. Being threatened with yet another knife, Kirito accepts Asuna’s invite. The next morning starts off interestingly for Kirito as Asuna crash lands on him and then proceeds to hide behind him as her bodyguard shows up.
Kuradeel demands that they return to headquarters at once. Asuna refuses and eventually Kuradeel tries to take her back by force. Kirito stops Kuradeel and says that he could do a better job of protecting Asuna than Kuradeel. Kuradeel is not too happy with this and challenges Kirito to a duel. In a single strike, Kirito destroys Kuradeel’s sword. As Kuradeel is about to attack with his dagger, Asuna interferes with the duel and relieves Kuradeel of his duty as a bodyguard. Why she didn’t do that in the first place rather than running from him we will never know.
So Kirito and Asuna go to the dungeon on the front lines. As they fight monsters, Kirito realizes how much easier it is to kill monsters in the dungeons when he is grouped with another competent player. As they explore the dungeon, the two of them find the door to the boss room. Since the boss can’t leave its room, Kirito and Asuna decide to go in and take a look so that they can figure out how to defeat the boss. What do they find inside the boss chamber? A giant blue demonic goat with a snake tail and a crap ton of health. So yeah, one giant problem.
Got to love it when an anime or any TV show ends an episode with a cliff hanger. So far most of the episodes in SAO have been about character development and side stories rather than focusing entirely on the efforts to clear the game. This episode was rather slow, with several side stories all coming together for the purpose of some character development and then the reveal of what the next boss looks like. Although seeing Kirito getting menaced with a butter knife was pretty funny, so I don’t mind this episode and its slower pace.
While character development and subplots are great for any kind of story, it feels like we are missing so many opportunities for that. With the front lines being on the 74th floor there are many floors below that we as viewers don’t even know what they look like, what the boss was, and we don’t even know what ordeals and struggles the players had to go through to get that far through Aincrad. It feels like the show is moving too fast while taking its time to show us some interesting sights with a side of character development as we basically sprint to the 100th floor.