*The following discusses content found in episode 4. Spoilers follow.*
The most recent episode of Sword Art Online is my favorite yet. Episode 4 resolves the pacing issues found in the third episode, all while having a solid beginning, middle, and end. I’m sure not every episode will handle its story content in the same fashion, but what can I say, I do enjoy an anime series with a strong narrative structure.
This past week’s episode features the character Silica, a young female player who is idolized because she’s… young and can tame a dragon. She can hold her own while in a group of party members because players will defend her, but on her own she’s not so lucky. Her tamed dragon Pina sacrifices itself to protect Silica from some monsters and shatters into sparkly data. Kirito arrives just in time to save Silica and offers his help to revive Pina.
Once again Kirito is helping someone because he wants to, a more endearing trait because he has a kind heart. Or maybe not considering the end of the episode reveals Kirito used Silica and her idolized fame to draw out a gang of player-killers named Titan’s Hand. But there was still at least 15 minutes spent on Kirito and Silica becoming friends, battling monsters, discussing the revival of Pina, etc. Kirito mentioned to Silica that he decided to help her because she reminds him of his real life cousin, of whom is like a sister to him. I believe this is the real trait to focus on with this “black swordsman”, even if his ultimate goal was to take down Titan’s Hand for a client. Yet even then he was helping to imprison a group of players that were murdering innocent people for sport, so he really is a good guy.
The creators of Sword Art Online would need to show me more reason to believe that Kirito is really a “solo player” who has that dark persona about him. So far he seems to care about the people he comes across, and even the second episode explains that he outcasts himself to save other players from being revealed to be beta testers. I tend to like Kirito’s character so far, and I like his actions in this episode. Or maybe I just felt bad about that poor pet dragon smashed into sparkly bits… sparkly bits o’ dragon data. At least he came back to life.
You can watch Sword Art Online on Crunchyroll (http://www NULL.crunchyroll NULL.com/sword-art-online). You can also now watch it on your PlayStation 3!