What I ___ Today: Nov. 9, 2014

Posted: November 18, 2014 in What I ___ Today
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What I Watched Today: Log Horizon II (episode ) & Sword Art Online II (episode 18)

Log Horizon II:

LogHorizon

That was quite the episode. At once very lighthearted, and very heavy. It was all very calm and peaceful. Not a single attack. Not a single bit of combat. Throughout it all though, the specter of death hangs over everything in an episode book ended by Akatsuki’s journey back to life and an event that certainly appeared to be something more than just a death.

So, in the last episode, Akatsuki was killed in combat. Unless I’m mistaken, this marks the first time in the series that a member of Log Horizon has died (Shiroe appears to have fallen as well, but I don’t believe we ever saw that happen). And with the first death in the title guild, the show gets the opportunity to really give us a look at what happens when the adventurers die. This sequence, with Akatsuki and Shiroe in what can be best described as Elder Tale’s limbo was, well it was a little strange, frankly. It was also very sweet, as it was the first scene the two have really shared together since Shiroe left Akihabara. It was definitely nice to see them together again, and it also brought a little more clarity to the scene earlier in the season with Akatsuki and Shiroe in what seems to have been this same limbo. Once Akatsuki is back in the world and reunited with the rest of the adult ladies of Elder Tale we get some actual growth from her, as she not only opens up a little bit, but actually asks for help, and acknowledges how reliant she has been on Shiroe to this point. I am very happy with the Akatsuki’s story has been developing recently. It’s probably the most interesting part of the show so far this season (and I’m not just saying that because she’s my favorite character).

There was much more going on here than just Akatsuki though. The world of Elder Tale itself is changing. The world is getting larger (geographically). Males playing female avatars (and vice versa presumably) are having their voices chance to suit their adopted gender. And flavor text on items (which is supposed to have no in-game effects) is becoming real. That’s the important one, at least this episode, as it plays into the ending death that I referenced earlier, which I’m not going to spoil even as far removed from the original airing as this post is. What I will say, is that I can’t wait to see where this particular plot line is going, because this scene was easily one of the most haunting scenes they’ve done on this show up to this point. Hopefully the payoff lives up to the kickoff.

LogHorizon_s2e06

Sword Art Online II:

SwordArtOnline2

Well, I’m not quite going to go so far as to call this a filler episode, but it was probably about as close as you can possibly come without actually earning that classification. What I will call it, is the “Girl Talk” episode, because that’s exactly what it is. The vast majority of this episode revolves around Asuna, Leafa, Silica and Liz chatting in Asuna and Kirito’s (and Yui’s) cabin.

There is a little bit of story here though, both for a main (and I have a feeling rather short) plot line, and in the sub plot of what is going on in Asuna’s life (though that gets only a few flashes and no real exposition). The big main story here is the appearance of of a very strong swordsman newly arrived in ALO who is challenging all comers to duels. In order to entice all the players to duel him he has put an Original Sword Skill on the line. They make it very clear that this man, named Zekken, is a converted account from another game (as Kirito was when he went to GGO at the beginning of the season), but they also make sure to shoot down the natural assumption that this is another survivor from SAO. Perhaps the most interesting aspect here, is that Kirito fights, and loses to Zekken (seen in flashback and only in part), though there is some speculation amongst the ladies as to whether or not Kirito was going full strength, with Liz positing that he’ll probably never fight all out again in a game, unless that game isn’t a game anymore (as in SAO and GGO).

I’ve neglected a very important aspect of this episode up until this point. Kirito spent the entire episode, save for flashback sequences, asleep. And with Sinon (oddly called Shinonon) only in the episode for maybe 5 seconds, that left Asuna to be the focus, a very rare thing this season. Sadly though, she kind of comes off here as something of an empty vessel who didn’t have a purpose until Kirito came along. On the upside though, as her interest in Zekken grows, it starts to seem like there may actually be some character development going on. She even has a subplot going aside from the main plot, where it is pretty heavily implied that her family is trying to arrange a marriage for her. A marriage that doesn’t involve Kirito. I’ve probably said it before this season, but it’s nice to see Asuna getting some attention, and I really hope that something interesting comes of it.

SwordArtOnline2Episode18

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