So first off, this was really not that bad at all, and probably ranked up at my top three for the season. In fact, it surprisingly rates pretty high among us in BAYOG who normally absolutely despise the series and only watch it for mocking. While I went into this with low expectations, I was pleasantly surprised at the balance between being an entertaining show and well…Sword Art Online. I daresay if they did a season two more in line with my expectations I’d still watch it.
So we pick up from mid season with the start of SJ2, the battle royale of Japan’s GGO server. Llenn kicks things off completely on her shit and ready to go, talking through tactics and ideas and strategizing about the random generated map with Fuka. The first team encountered by team LF are swiftly dealt with and the subsequent as well through appropriate utilization of indirect fire support from Fuka’s grenades and Llenn acting as spotter. The episode wraps and rolls into the next with team PM4 being approached by an alliance of 7 teams. Pito however throws us by instead of being her normal cocky self, going full tilt insane complete with Ouji-Sama laugh (look it up if you’ve never heard it before, it’s quite entertaining).
In a horrifyingly brutal counter attack, team PM4 counter attacks the coalition of terrible teams with Pito simply massacring them. We’re talking full on, sadistic and evil tortuous murder of these people. Even considering it’s a video game with no lethality involved, her bloodthirsty nature has you invested in the action. The cavalier attitude and sheer insanity hit a striking balance (as did many things in this show for me) and I found myself genuinely in love with the woman as Pito toyed with and tortured these people and picking off their leaders with anti-tank weaponry. Zooming to Llenn and Fuka, we have them combating a series of teams through the use of pink smoke and a suppressor to obfuscate Llenn. They wipe two teams and find a strange person who trades their magazines to Llenn in exchange for a kiss. This person, Clarence is revealed to be a woman and throws Llenn out of the way and dies saving her. So a pause to this real quick is that this scene could have and should have seemed out of place and/or forced. In practice, it was actually a way to introduce a character I feel either is a throwback character to past SAO or just a new character that they did a fantastic job of introducing into the show and I want to see more of her.
We then have a bit of a fast forward as the remaining teams left are dwindling down and Pito is basically revealed to be a real bitch who shoots people who left under cover of a cease fire when they tried to negotiate with her. In probably one of the few poorly developed characters, a sniper who seemed to dislike shooting people (making me think of Sinon, but she’s already an established character) survives Pito’s assault and seems to snap, devoting herself to eliminating the vermin that is Pito. The Amazons team with LF to take down Pito to save her life after hearing Karen’s story IRL about M and Pito. An amazing bout of sacrifice later, they effectively destroy M’s shield and facilitate an assault on team PM4. The aforementioned sniper shoots Pito in the face, and is subsequently gunned down by Llenn who has a moment of conscience where she debates if defeating Pito in her weakened state is truly defeating her. It turns out apparently that Pito was using a NerveGear that would keep her in the game even should her heart hit the danger threshold or she lose consciousness.
While buying her time to recover, the 3 remaining unnamed contractors of PM4 move on MMTM in a valiant if not a bit depressing last stand. M then goes to kiss his sleeping beauty as MMTM surround their room. Pito awakens and goes full Darth Vader on them with a photon saber, which is actually effective since she both gets the jump on them, has a shield made from the same armor of M’s shield, and is in close combat with them. So as she began this “fight” with them, my exact notes were “Yea, this will be fucking excessive” followed by “Yea, that was fucking excessive.” To equate this “fight” to another “fight” imagine the scene that they omitted from Star Wars where Anakin murders children by the dozen. The scene plays out with SHINC getting fully wiped out and Fuka being brutally shot to pieces by Pito to flush out the cowering/tied down Llenn. Llenn then begins sprinting off in an attempt to pull out M and Pito from their entrenched position, which only somewhat works out.
Fuka however comes to the rescue with some grenade volleys and in one of the most genuinely metal moments in anime I’ve ever seen, cuts off Llenns arms so that while in mid air she can be kicked at Pito, and then proceeds to tear her throat out with her teeth. I don’t know how I expected this fight to end, but it was most certainly not that. Unfortunately after the battle was won, the war was lost as the random final team arrived just in time to mop up for an easy victory. This right here was another thing that I feel should have left me empty or angry, but genuinely, if you’ve ever played a battle royale, you know that is exactly how it goes. You and another team fight it out for some other guys with 8x scopes to pick you off casually from a hill. That bit of realism had me appreciate the show for not portraying the characters as a bunch of Mary Sues who can only be defeated by each other.
Back in the meat space, we have some good resolutions between the characters. SHINC get their sweets and tea from Karen with some to spare, and returned the favor with a medallion for Karen. Karen and Fuka then go off to meet M and the IRL Pito. M reveals the truth behind his and Pito’s meeting and again to quote my notes “Awww romantic backstory” then “Awww he was really fat” followed by “Well…that wasn’t quite as adorable as I expected” finally ending with “So he’s pretty crazy and M really does stand for Masochist.” Of course we find the real Pito and per the assumptions form two months ago, it turns out to be the timid and quiet seeming Kanzaki Elsa, the musician of whom that Karen and Fuka are massive fans. While this was predictable I’m glad they didn’t do the easy reveal that she’s Kanzaki Elsa, and had at least tried to fake another bait and switch but never mind that. I’m left thinking again that the show wasn’t that bad at all and that between it all I really enjoyed the watch. I know I’m holding up for more adorable P-Chan and GGO, and hope I’m not the only one.