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View Poll Results: Critique of Episode 21
10 out of 10 : Near Perfect... 12 12.63%
9 out of 10 : Excellent... 27 28.42%
8 out of 10 : Very Good... 22 23.16%
7 out of 10 : Good... 13 13.68%
6 out of 10 : Average... 9 9.47%
5 out of 10 : Below Average... 6 6.32%
4 out of 10 : Poor... 0 0%
3 out of 10 : Bad... 0 0%
2 out of 10 : Very Bad... 0 0%
1 out of 10 : Torturous... 6 6.32%
Voters: 95. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 2012-11-25, 15:52   Link #161
relentlessflame
 
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Originally Posted by Clarste View Post
But the extremely specific "I fell in love with this person who loves someone else and now my heart is broken wah wah" bit seems to me like it could be surgically excised without affecting her important supporting role as Kirito's sister. Heck, you could even still have her falling in love with Kirito's avatar and have a similar heartbreak reveal in the end. It's just that her "I fell in love with my cousin while he was in a coma" doesn't really add anything to her family dynamic role, and arguably detracts from it.
I think it's the other way around, if anything; her "sister" role is the less critical one here. I think you could rather easily have her be a childhood friend that lives next door. The key point is that she may have had latent feelings before, they were amplified while he was gone, then he comes back; to her time was on hold, but to him he lived an entirely different life. She's been literally next to him the entire time, but couldn't be further away. The fact that they're cousins living under the same roof is more irony than anything else.

I agree with what was said before that they're not exactly being subtle about all the irony, so I can see why some don't like it... but I think Suzuha's doomed romance is a lot more critical to the story (at least right now) than her status as his sister.

Edit:
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Originally Posted by Keroko View Post
While I do agree that Suguha's role is vital in seeing Kirito from a different perspective, I also believe that the removal of the romance would have been beneficial here. As it stands, the romance distracts from that very role of Suguha and it's removal would allow for more focus on how Kirito changed from Suguha's perspective.
I guess I sort of addressed this above, but I feel that her romantic perspective is also relevant to her point-of-view. She is not only coming to terms with her own feelings, but to terms with Kazuto's feelings for Asuna that developed while time was on hold. I think that angle is a key part of what they're showing in the story. Having her just be a normal sister/friend helping him out doesn't strike all the same chords -- at least from my point of view.

(I suppose I should also say that I've been known to have unpopular tastes and to like stories that feature doomed romance. So I can understand that things that seem central and important to me may seem less important to others. It's all in how you look at it. Just trying to explain the way I see it.)
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Old 2012-11-25, 16:15   Link #162
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I think this series had the potential to be great but has been brought down by retarded stuff like the parody tentacle rape scene. I just don't understand why they put that there. You're engrossed in the action and story and then that joke scene comes up and disrupts the flow of the story and makes you question just how serious the people making this show are. 'OloLOL lets put tentecles gais iz so funny' Uh, no.
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Old 2012-11-25, 16:20   Link #163
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I don't think the tentacle scene was meant to be funny, it was meant to be disturbing and/or disgusting.
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Old 2012-11-25, 16:30   Link #164
Oroboro
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"These are creepy bad guys!" Again with the subtlety of a brick to the face. Actually thinking about, that seems to be a common thing with SAO. Suguha's feelings, Sugou's over the top villainy, Kirito's badassitude, they all probably could have benefited from a tad more restraint when written.

Although I'll agree, the tentacle thing is a definite low point.
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Old 2012-11-25, 17:32   Link #165
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I'm not going to try to defend the tentacle thing, but I do think there were a few interesting things to take out of that scene beyond just "they're creepy bad guys" (which is doubtless true).

I think the implication of their comments is that they assume that Sugou is "having his way" with Asuna, and that he's "keeping her to himself". They contrast her to the "dolls" that they're playing with (we can assume what sort of play...), and they think it's unfair that Sugou would allow himself this sort of "play thing".

But this contrasts to the conversation Sugou had with Asuna a few episodes back about why she wouldn't just fool around with him, since it's "just a game". And that even though his position and research could both easily make it such that she would have no choice but to be subject to his will, he doesn't do that to her. To her, this isn't just a game, and I suppose he doesn't want her to just be a "doll" either.

When the scientists are talking about their test subjects, they excuse their research saying that they're "just dreaming" (i.e. it isn't real/it doesn't really hurt them in the real world). I assume they also excuse their in-game behaviour with the "dolls" because they're not real. But there's obviously a certain threshold going on between "dolls" and "dreaming" and "it's just a game" (per Sugou) that is apparent even to these immoral/amoral researchers. Having power over someone who can fight back is a lot more satisfying to a power-freak than having power over people with no choice but to obey.

All of Asuna's situation (and so much of the vicious debates about her portrayal in the show) come down to whether she's a "doll" or not. She's essentially being forced into a sort of arranged marriage by her family (even though she isn't really getting married). She's trapped in a cage with no (otherwise obvious) means of escape. She's being intimidated and harassed by Sugou, who could forcefully dissolve her will at any time. Even the tentacled-scientists sort of imply they wish to make a glorified doll out of her (hence the tentacle scene). Basically everyone is conspiring to make her into the doll they want her to be for their own satisfaction. But even the villains realize that there's no satisfaction in having power over a doll. Asuna's value is in her own free will.

This goes back to what Asuna said herself way back in Episode 6 when this plot element was introduced in the context of Griselda: love isn't reflected in a desire to possess someone. Before SAO, Asuna may have been an obedient child and may have submitted to those who wanted to make doll of her (thinking she had no other choice). But SAO gave her the opportunity to grow into her own person and to have her own ideas and ideals worth fighting for. And that's the very thing that keeps her from becoming a "doll" in spite of everything that conspires against her. At the end of the day, for all its clumsiness, the story is saying that turning a woman (or any person) into a doll you possess or control is wrong. Of course, that's so obvious that it probably goes without saying.
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Old 2012-11-25, 18:16   Link #166
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Who wears short shorts in the middle of winter? Sugu wears short shorts in the middle of winter.

I facepalmed when I read the tentacles scene and facepalmed harder when I watched it. The tentacles were justified by being more productive than two arms, but they were added for the simple reason of the tentacle fetish of which I will never understand.

Other than that, it was a good episode.
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Old 2012-11-25, 18:53   Link #167
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I think Asuna's situation and peoples reaction again ties into the separation between fiction and metafiction I talked about a bunch of episodes ago.

Some people look at her situation and think that while unfortunate, it's something pretty much anyone would be unable to escape from, that Asuna is putting on an incredibly brave face for someone in her situation, and while that Sugou's a tad over the top, scumbags like him are all too common in real life as well.

Others look at it and only see Kuwahara pulling all the strings, because the author wrote those characters, put them in those situations, and controls whether or not Asuna escapes or gets molested or whatever.

Some stories are enhanced by trying to see it from the authors perspective, others are better to just sit back and pretend the puppets are real. Whichever one SAO is is up to individual taste, but between these two viewpoints there can be little reconciliation, because they end up discussing two totally different things.
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Old 2012-11-25, 19:01   Link #168
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Quote:
Originally Posted by relentlessflame View Post
I'm not going to try to defend the tentacle thing, but I do think there were a few interesting things to take out of that scene beyond just "they're creepy bad guys" (which is doubtless true).
I'd like to find some additional reasoning behind it too, but they flat out portrayed them as real-world perverts who wanted to "have their way" with her. Seriously, that's what they said. I wouldn't be surprised if they asked to take that form so they could make this scene a reality when the time came or something.

But half-assed joking aside, I'd honestly like to hear what you thought was interesting in that scene. Perhaps I can walk away from it with...anything.
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Old 2012-11-25, 19:06   Link #169
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But half-assed joking aside, I'd honestly like to hear what you thought was interesting in that scene. Perhaps I can walk away from it with...anything.
Uh, well, that was exactly what the rest of my post did, so...

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Originally Posted by Oroboro View Post
Some people look at her situation and think that while unfortunate, it's something pretty much anyone would be unable to escape from, that Asuna is putting on an incredibly brave face for someone in her situation, and while that Sugou's a tad over the top, scumbags like him are all too common in real life as well.

Others look at it and only see Kuwahara pulling all the strings, because the author wrote those characters, put them in those situations, and controls whether or not Asuna escapes or gets molested or whatever.
I think there's a middle ground between these two extremes (that I strive, perhaps fail, to get at), which is: what is the underlying point the author is trying to get at by depicting this element? This element doesn't exist randomly nor in isolation; it's fundamentally connected to all the rest of the messages in this story about Asuna's identity, those who seek to abuse/manipulate her, and why humans are more than just dolls to be toyed with and experimented upon. These are elements that the author of the story has placed there deliberately as he tries to convey the overall message. (The parallel between scientists who find nothing wrong with manipulating human brains in secret, and who would be willing to sexually assault a girl in the game world are obviously there on purpose, and connect to previous scenes.) So we have to ask ourselves: what does this scene tell us about the scientists? What does it tell us about Asuna? What does it tell us about Sugou? What is the theme being developed here? To answer these we have to listen to the dialogue carefully, place it in context, and understand what's happening beyond just "tentacles!" I reject the argument that this is supposed to be just "lol fanservice", and there's more to the scene than being just a simple plot device to bring her back to the cage. I'm not trying to say that it's totally "deep" either... but it's at some point in the middle.

In other words, what matters most (to me anyway) isn't "what happened", it's "why" (or "what does it mean"/"how is it connected"). Too often the answer you get is just "Because the author." (period). Well okay...

Edit: To be clear, I have no problem with people who dislike the scene, or who find it to be not necessary to communicate the author's intent (as long as they've given at least a bit of real thought as to what the author's intent might have been). The author is certainly not infallible or beyond making decisions we might find questionable. But I personally do try to place everything in context of the big picture. Again, that's just my own personal philosophy.
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Old 2012-11-25, 19:11   Link #170
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Uh, well, that was exactly what the rest of my post did, so...
Oh sorry, I thought you had additional points to make on top of that. That's all good then, apologies. :3
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Old 2012-11-25, 19:24   Link #171
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I found the tentacle scene repulsive. And I am fine with it being repulsive.

Because that's what tentacle scenes are supposed to be imho. Repulsive.
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Old 2012-11-25, 19:29   Link #172
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I think this series had the potential to be great but has been brought down by retarded stuff like the parody tentacle rape scene. I just don't understand why they put that there. You're engrossed in the action and story and then that joke scene comes up and disrupts the flow of the story and makes you question just how serious the people making this show are. 'OloLOL lets put tentecles gais iz so funny' Uh, no.
To make it short...yes I agree

Although I really like the SAO LNs and the anime I facepalmed the same as DragoZERO as I read/watched it and imo that's the worst part of the whole series.

Well luckily that was the only time he did that (I dont really count the Sicilia scene as nothing happened there)

@Dengar

It's fine that it is repulsive, but pls consider: was this really needed at this point? Seriously we all hate Sugou enough by now, you don't need anymore scenes with that apart from the scene where the main guy meets the heroine and the villian wants to make the main guy rage.
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Old 2012-11-25, 20:00   Link #173
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It's fine that it is repulsive, but pls consider: was this really needed at this point? Seriously we all hate Sugou enough by now, you don't need anymore scenes with that apart from the scene where the main guy meets the heroine and the villian wants to make the main guy rage.
This isn't about hating Sugou -- what does it have to do with him? It's about understanding the immoral/amoral mentality of the scientists who work for him. If they were just following orders and doing what their boss told him, that'd make Sugou the one true bad guy. But their power-trip with the tentacles shows that they too have let the power get to their heads, and have no qualms treating people like objects for their own selfish enjoyment. That's what the tentacle scene communicates that it not being there would not have. Whether that is important for the story or not down the road... I don't know.

(That aside the difference between what happened with Asuna and what happened with Silica is that the monsters that attacked Silica were AI-controlled, while these monsters were human-controlled. Well that and the context and perceived seriousness of the situation.)

Again, I'm really not trying to defend the scene (it was repulsive and that was intentional), but at the same time I don't think it was completely without purpose either.


(Edit: Personally, I wish the scene wasn't there only because it has provided yet another thing for the fanbase to rage about. I am so tired after 21 weeks of discussing about this anime, even though I find the anime quite fun. But yes, of course I know it's my fault for participating too... )
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Old 2012-11-25, 21:03   Link #174
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Good episode. Not much action, not that I mind, but we got some insight into Suguha and into ALO. I'm liking Suguha's character, both inside ALO and out, she's a nice honest girl who genuinely cares for her "brother." Favorite characters are still Asuna and Yui.

Speaking of Yui. Please stay adorable Yui, I like how she's trying to imitate humans, and her ability to detect nearby players is proving quite useful.

Did anyone else think Asuna looked completely adorable when she was sneaking around Yggdrasil, especially right here?:
Images
Sorry; dynamic content not loaded. Reload?

If there was any doubt about Kirito's sense of urgency, I think it's gone after the end of this episode. Now that he's gotten proof that yes, Asuna is indeed in ALO, I dont think the nigh invulnerable guardian NPC's are going to be enough to stop him.

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Spoiler for Save Space:
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Originally Posted by relentlessflame View Post
In other words, what matters most (to me anyway) isn't "what happened", it's "why" (or "what does it mean"/"how is it connected"). Too often the answer you get is just "Because the author." (period). Well okay...
I'd hug you if we were in person and if that wouldnt make me appear odd.

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This isn't about hating Sugou -- what does it have to do with him? It's about understanding the immoral/amoral mentality of the scientists who work for him. If they were just following orders and doing what their boss told him, that'd make Sugou the one true bad guy. But their power-trip with the tentacles shows that they too have let the power get to their heads, and have no qualms treating people like objects for their own selfish enjoyment. That's what the tentacle scene communicates that it not being there would not have. Whether that is important for the story or not down the road... I don't know.

Again, I'm really not trying to defend the scene (it was repulsive and that was intentional), but at the same time I don't think it was completely without purpose either.)
I agree, the scene was repulsive, I've never seen the appeal with tentacles. But like you said, there was more to the scene the just fanservice or the author being weird or whatever. Sugou's entire operation is corrupt, right down to the lackies.

The scene also gave us this little tid-bit of information: Pain can be turned on and off in ALO. This applies to the scientists so it probably also applies to let's say Kirito and Asuna, and maybe Leafa as well.
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Old 2012-11-25, 21:15   Link #175
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I've never seen the appeal with tentacles.
Erotic scene without the presence of guys, but still having everything that they would offer. Better view, etc.

Granted, that's only true when you're looking for eroticism, not when you're watching for character development and action.
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Old 2012-11-25, 21:51   Link #176
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Regarding Suguha's love for Kirito I'd stick to the notion that it was developed through a "suspension bridge effect". First she had a falling out w/ her brother when they were young and she was having trouble trying to get close to him again for most of those years. Then she finds out he's been trapped in a death game for who knows how long. She didn't even have any guarantee he'll survive the ordeal. She probably felt regret that she didn't put more effort in trying to regain her and her brothers good graces now that the SAO incident happened. Personally I think anybody in her position might think the same. Then w/ all those conflicting emotions bubbling up inside her she gets hit w/ the fact that her "brother" isn't really her brother at all. It was probably too much to take all at once for an adolescent girl. As a way to resolve her conflicting emotions she decided to play ALO as an attempt to try to understand Kirito more and to serve as a sort of make shift bridge to him after all those years of not minding each others business. Probably somewhere along the way the thoughts of "wanting to be close to onii-chan again" turned into that of "liking onii-chan". Whether or not this was genuine or just a distortion caused by emotions going haywire is topic for another discussion.
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Old 2012-11-25, 22:24   Link #177
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Another slow episode but it is understandable after the last two. Also surpirsed they covered both feet and tentacle fetishes in the same episode, I guess SAO is a very complete series.

Now moving onto the famous Grand Quest, which means the battle against those high level World Tree mobs is coming up.
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Old 2012-11-26, 00:39   Link #178
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Uh, well, that was exactly what the rest of my post did, so...

I think there's a middle ground between these two extremes (that I strive, perhaps fail, to get at), which is: what is the underlying point the author is trying to get at by depicting this element? This element doesn't exist randomly nor in isolation; it's fundamentally connected to all the rest of the messages in this story about Asuna's identity, those who seek to abuse/manipulate her, and why humans are more than just dolls to be toyed with and experimented upon. These are elements that the author of the story has placed there deliberately as he tries to convey the overall message. (The parallel between scientists who find nothing wrong with manipulating human brains in secret, and who would be willing to sexually assault a girl in the game world are obviously there on purpose, and connect to previous scenes.) So we have to ask ourselves: what does this scene tell us about the scientists? What does it tell us about Asuna? What does it tell us about Sugou? What is the theme being developed here? To answer these we have to listen to the dialogue carefully, place it in context, and understand what's happening beyond just "tentacles!" I reject the argument that this is supposed to be just "lol fanservice", and there's more to the scene than being just a simple plot device to bring her back to the cage. I'm not trying to say that it's totally "deep" either... but it's at some point in the middle.

In other words, what matters most (to me anyway) isn't "what happened", it's "why" (or "what does it mean"/"how is it connected"). Too often the answer you get is just "Because the author." (period). Well okay...

Edit: To be clear, I have no problem with people who dislike the scene, or who find it to be not necessary to communicate the author's intent (as long as they've given at least a bit of real thought as to what the author's intent might have been). The author is certainly not infallible or beyond making decisions we might find questionable. But I personally do try to place everything in context of the big picture. Again, that's just my own personal philosophy.
Very good points. It's worth noting that a strong theme in this story is the exploration of how different people will deal with virtual reality, virtual games, the death game of SAO and the non-lethal ALO etc. This goes for both good and bad guys.

Asuna has also developed quite a lot during her time in SAO, so much that her parents may have trouble reconciling the difference. She started out her life in SAO by hiding out in the starting village for weeks, then she decided that she rather die then huddle in fear and thus decided to go out while fighting. This is where she met Kirito and he tought her that there were a way to beat the game rather then just suicidally fighting against mobs until you drop. She then started to 'play' the game for earnest, progressed herself, joined a guild etc. Later Kirito taught her that you could also enjoy SAO some despite it being a death game. All of those experiences have left Asuna in love with Kirito and rather emotionally dependant on him. So this latest arc actually helps her develop further as she has to rely on herself to stay sane. She rightly assumes that Kirito is doing everything he can to try and free her, but she has to resist Suguo's break down attempts on her own. Thus when this is over so is it likely that Asuna will be a stronger person then before. That is also quite a few stages of development of one character over time in one story.
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Old 2012-11-26, 00:50   Link #179
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I wonder really: I see alot of assertions among some of the more intensively Anti-SAO commentators that Asuna has minimal character development and characterization. So far, there's quite alot of assertion being thrown that way, but I've not seen a detailed analysis of Asuna's character and why her character fails in their eyes.
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Old 2012-11-26, 01:15   Link #180
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I wonder really: I see alot of assertions among some of the more intensively Anti-SAO commentators that Asuna has minimal character development and characterization. So far, there's quite alot of assertion being thrown that way, but I've not seen a detailed analysis of Asuna's character and why her character fails in their eyes.
We see a lot of that really. Less coherent and well-put arguments, more blind ranting A lot of it is actually a case of "jumping on the bandwagon". People seem to have a high tendency for that. I'd happily accept criticism from people since no show is absolutely perfect nor can you please absolutely everyone. As long as it's their own honest opinion and not an absurd case of parroting and obscene use of caps and swear words
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