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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Salamander: Sword Art Online 20

Kirito and Leafa have made it to the meeting and Kirito’s bluff as an ambassador has been called out. If he can survive in a fight against the Salamanders General Eugene, his plan to prevent a war might work. (Source: Crunchyroll)
Spoiler warning: Post contains spoilers up to episode 20, "General of the Blazing Flame".
Well, they did it. They dedicated an entire episode to a subplot I simply do not care about: the Salamanders. I know I should, but it's just not compelling enough for me. Especially when this great subplot about Kirito and Leafa and Asuna is also right there, waiting to take the spotlight again. 
I'm sure the Salamanders' plot will end up playing into the endgame but at this point, it's putting me to sleep.

In this episode: Kirito fights Eugene and shows everyone how awesome he is. Is this series a shonen? Because Kirito is powering up at the rate of a standard shonen hero. It doesn't matter that he's in a different video game because he's just awesome and everything always works out in the end for him. Hell yeah, Kirito!
And to be honest, the Kirito/Eugene fight was largely uneventful except for the revelation that Kirito's duel wielding skill apparently transferred into Alfheim/ALO and this is the skill he uses to whoop Eugene's bottom. Naturally, he needs Leafa's sword to do it, who isn't particularly disturbed by Kirito snatching her blade in the middle of a fight. Although I'm surprised his dual wielding isn't cause for alarm or anything, since it can't be a common skill set in ALO.
Anyway, Kirito is perfect, he wins the fight as he does, and Eugene slinks away after threatening to come back later. This is when Sakuya, the leader of the Sylphs, confronts Sigure, who has been the mole the entire time and helped lead both Sylphs and Cait Siths into a trap. It was pretty cool to see Sakuya expose Sigure as the turncoat he is and pretty much strip him of everything that makes him important, doomed to wander with no group affiliation and no allies. Considering he's no longer useful to the Salamanders, I doubt they'll take him in, either.
It was nice seeing other races in the game, although I wonder why players would willingly dress in the exact same uniform. They looked like NPCs, not real players. Even if the Sylphs and the Cait Siths have mandatory uniform codes among their ranks, you can't stop your average MMORPG player from adding their own touch of flair to their outfits, whether it's an extra accessory or a particular color scheme, especially in a game like ALO where customization is more in-depth than your standard video game.
Anyone else wonder how much time has passed in the real world while Leafa and Kirito fought off the Salamander invaders? It's a good thing Leafa's mother isn't around, or she'd be wondering why her wards spend so much of their nights jacked into their Nerve Gear. Sword Art Online is yet another anime where adults are conveniently absent from the story so the teen characters can advance plot without consequence.
The most important part of the episode was Asuna using the door code she had memorized to escape her cage. Seriously, y'all, did anyone think Asuna was just going to wait for Kirito to come in? I can see Kirito and Leafa making their way to the base of the World Tree only to meet Asuna on her way down. It would be so very Chrono Trigger of this show.

I know this episode was necessary to speed up plot concerning the Salamanders, but I wish it had been more interesting. At least with Asuna's break out, we can go back to the main focus of this ALO arc: save the cheerleader fairy princess, save the world. Don't let me down, Kirito.