Review: Sword Art Online, Episode 13: Phantom Bullet

Review:

Now THAT was an episode! We pick up where we last left off, with Kirito and Death Gun facing off in the wastelands. Unlike what we’re used to, though, Kirito is getting his behind handed to him. This was, quite frankly, a nice change of pace. While I’m all for the good guy winning, that seems to be all Kirito can really do. Up until now, it feels like he only lost when unfair advantages were played against him (minus the final battle with Kayaba, and then Kirito deus-ex-machina’ed his way out of that one). This time it was just legitimate skill. Okay, maybe Kirito was a bit distracted by trying to remember the guy’s name, but it certainly looked like Death Gun had a legitimate advantage.

The timing of everything really felt great in this episode—the fight doesn’t take the whole episode, but it doesn’t feel rushed, either. There’s enough tension to make it interesting. It’s also not drug on for so long that you just want it to end (I’m looking at you, Dragonball Z). The fact that Kirito could not have won (at least, most likely) without Sinon’s intervention was a nice touch, as well. It further solidified her role in this series, her growth as a character, and one of my points on the twelfth episode’s “Christian Perspective”. It’s nice that Sinon didn’t simply get relegated to a sub-plot who was useless once her quest was finished. The way the BBO ended was just simply amusing, too. Unfortunately, we do not get to see Asuna’s reaction to that (which would have also been amusing).

Despite the happy resolution near the episode’s middle, there’s still plenty left to go. As with the ending to the ALO arc, the true final battle takes place in real life. While some people apparently picked up on cues from the intro (kudos to you if you did), I was pretty surprised by the turn of events that transpired once Sinon exited Gun Gale Online. Granted, when you stop and think about it (or have it pointed out to you, like I did) you notice a definite similarity to the ALO villain’s actions and those of GGO’s. I definitely feel like this arc did it better, though, although I feel like the character could have been built up a little better. There was certainly jealousy from early on, so it wasn’t a complete “zero-to-crazy in sixty seconds” scenario, but it definitely could have been teased out more throughout the season.

Overall, this episode will certainly scratch whatever itch you may have for action. It was intense, and the plot still isn’t quite resolved yet, so make sure you tune in next week!

A Christian Perspective:

This isn’t really a “lesson”, but given the episode’s turn of events, this Scripture is relevant (not saying any more to avoid spoilers):

Psalm 55: 12 – 14

If an enemy were insulting me,
I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me,
I could hide.

But it is you, a man like myself,
my companion, my close friend,
with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
at the house of God,
as we walked about
among the worshipers.

Those of you who have seen the episode will immediately make the connection. Those of you who haven’t should easily make the connection when you get to the right point. It’s truly interesting that I read this psalm right before eating lunch, where I watched the majority of this episode….

The lesson from Ecclesiastes that I included in Episode 12’s Christian Perspective is still applicable here, as well.

John 15: 13 (NIV): Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

This verse is really a theme for SAO as a whole. Kirito can certainly be called a man who would lay down his life for his friends. The very first story arc ended with him facing off against Kayaba in an attempt to end the SAO death game and set the players (and especially Asuna) free. While the ALO arc didn’t put him in as much danger (save for that hospital parking lot scene), he still put himself out there to save Asuna. Now, in GGO, he does it again by putting himself in real danger. Again, I won’t say much else so as to avoid spoilers, but just watch the end of this episode and you’ll make the connection.

Proverbs 17:17 (NIV): A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

This one I’ll apply to Asuna. It’s true that she hasn’t had much screen time in this season at all, and she certainly hasn’t played a prominent role. I think it’s fair to say that she realizes that there’s not much she can do, but rather than use that as an excuse to do nothing, she still does what she can. In one episode, we saw that she was willing to listen to Kirito. In this episode we see her by his bedside, holding his hand in an attempt to calm his nerves as he battles Death Gun within the game. It may not have been much, and who knows if it was even effective, but the point is that Asuna never stopped loving Kirito, and she never allowed her position of powerlessness become helplessness or hopelessness in the course of things. She tried her best to help Kirito when she could, and loved him enough to be by his side, doing whatever she could, no matter how small.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “jacka**”, 1 “d**n”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None
Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Kirito (Real life) is shown shirtless in the hospital bed; a character starts to reach his hand up a girl’s shirt (nothing is shown); a flashback shows Sinon’s usual buttcrack; the male character is again seen running his hand up a girl’s shirt, but the most you see is stomach
Violence: Kirito and Death Gun continue their duel; a character forces himself onto a girl, who then knocks him down; a girl fights off an assailant; a boy is kneed in the face
Blood/Gore: Kirito is shown with a bunch of those red marks on his body indicating hits; a character is sliced in half; Sinon has a brief flashback to the robber’s face with blood on it; a character is hit in the face, which produces blood

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One thought on “Review: Sword Art Online, Episode 13: Phantom Bullet

  1. Pingback: Something More: Faustus Metal Alchemist, Hopeful Anime Heroes, and Anime as Bible Study |

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