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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Temperature of the Heart: Sword Art Online 7

A trip to get a new sword leaves Kirito battling a dragon and his fears. (Source: Crunchyroll)
Spoiler warning: Review contains spoilers for the seventh episode of Sword Art Online. Remember - no spoilers beyond the Toonami broadcast!
Meet Lisbeth. Apparently the best smith around, and arguably the most adorable smith in all of Aincrad. In her shop at the 48th floor, her customers include members of the assault team. Her hand-crafted swords are second to known. 

She is about to get sucked into the whirling lone wolf maelstrom of emotions and pouting that is Kirito. Let us form a prayer circle for dear Lisbeth; she is going to need it.
In my previous Sword Art Online review, I had read the episode title and called a love triangle imminent. I was wrong, of course, but in ways I will explain later that aren't so obvious at the start of the episode. 

No, the episode at the start is pretty straightforward: Kirito needs a new, better sword so Kirito goes to Lisbeth's shop - and in the middle of testing her masterpiece of a blade, ends up breaking the young lady's greatest accomplishment as a smith. Whoops?

So they end up going together on a quest to defeat a dragon and steal his magic ore poop - because SAO apparently wasn't reaching the minimum requirement of scat jokes to be a proper RPG anime or something. It is during this quest that Lisbeth's kokoro starts going doki-doki for Kirito's aloof loner shtick. Naturally, because this is Sword Art Online and everyone's lives suck, this will not end well. Oh, and they get dropped into a deep hole that is pretty much inescapable because ICE WALLS.
Okay, that's terribly unfair of me. I wouldn't call Lisbeth a love sick teenager so much as a young girl who is scared of dying in a digital world and made a connection with a nice boy during a moment of mortal terror. And therefore, I can't really blame her for losing her mind - and her heart - over Kirito. I just wish that when push came to shove and the dragon came bearing down on her, Lisbeth didn't lose her head and become useless.
This girl spends her days surrounded by swords; don't you think she'd be pretty good at using them? Lisbeth would probably have to test them out in battle scenarios so she can make sure they are combat ready. And she's located in a pretty high level. I'm sure Lisbeth didn't reach level 48 on her looks alone; that's not really how Aincrad works. Maybe she's gotten so far because of her smithing skills but you don't survive in Aincard without some fighting chops.
Kirito was, well, Kirito. An awkward, broody loner who helps everyone and joins no one. Personally, I would like to know what was wrong with Elucidator that he had to replace it. Or did he really think it wouldn't be enough to beat the final boss? Still, he looks good with Dark Repulsor, even though when he swings it, it looks like he's using the pixel sword from Fruit Ninja. We can't win them all, Kirito.
Kirito is also apparently a serial heart breaker, although at least he's gentle about it. How do you hold a girl's hand in a dangerous scenario and not think of anything about it? He does a lot of acting without thinking and is used to having to clean up his own messes afterward, which shouldn't be necessary. If he really cares about Asuna - and I mean really cares­ - he should make that obvious before he reaches the top level.
Oh God, this isn't going to be a series where Asuna and Kirito bicker and fight and inwardly love each other so very very much but don't actually do anything about it because they're awfully dense about their own feelings regarding their comrade in arms? I don't know how much unresolved romantic tension I can take! It doesn't help that, so far, Kirito does not have any other viable romantic options other than Asuna. It's her or 'forever alone', bro. And we know Kirito totally digs her, so . . . ?
I think the best part about "The Temperature of the Heart" was the confirmation by both Lisbeth and Kirito that the world of Aincrad is as real as the outside world, even though it is digital. People live and die, fall in and out of love, are hurt and feel pain. There are people opening up shops and pursuing careers and going on quests and literally living within the guidelines of SAO. 

In short: to deny that the experiences of players in Aincrad are less than genuine would be foolish and plain wrong. After all, Kirito isn't risking everything to save a bunch of pixels. He's doing this to save a lot of very genuinely human lives.
Kirito has re-vowed to bring the game to an end so that everyone can return to their original lives in the 'real world'. This supposed lone wolf has continually shown he works best with other people and can't help but lend his services to those who are in need. Now it's up to Kirito to save his friends from this digital prison and its mad creator. Let's hope the path to the top floor isn't littered with real bodies.