Sword Art Online was many things, all of them synonyms for ‘awful’. It was easily the worst anime of the year for me. That may sound like an unnecessarily harsh opinion, but nothing else I saw pissed me off quite as much. Some people will describe something as “painful to watch”. Sword Art Online was that for me. Literally.
It’s frankly impressive. We saw the utterly hilariously inept and absurd and dumb second half of Guilty Crown in 2012, so for another series to come along with even more hype and also high production values (albeit, not quite as high) and be even worse is really quite something. Let thank sink in for a moment – Sword Art Online is worse than fucking Guilty Crown. To be fair, I find it hard to hate Guilty Crown now. It was awfully written and executed, sometimes rage-inducing, but always (unintentionally) entertaining as fuck. I laughed so much during Guilty Crown. I thank it for that. Unfortunately, I wish I could say the same for Sword Art Online. It starts off mediocre, but just gets worse and worse. There were a few flashes of so-bad-it’s-good, but for the most part it was just so-bad-it’s-terrible. And it got worse during the Alfheim Online arc, which was utterly awful in that regard. A plodding pace, needless fanservice, not-actually-incest-no-really siscon, an unbelievable amount of stupidity and relentless Gary-Stuing makes for a pretty fucking tedious at best watch.
I really thought it would kill me, by forcing my hand out of sheer frustration. The latter episodes were utterly painful. But then, finally, something magical happened. And I had the biggest laugh I’ve had of the year. Even now, remembering it, I giggle.
Sugou is a terrible villain. His motives are pathetic and lacking, his plans are moronic (who builds their secret base EXACTLY WHERE ALL THE PLAYERS ARE TRYING TO GET TO) and his characterisation is laughably shallow. Most of his actions can be described as “I’m EEEEEVIIIIL!!!” with a small amount of manical laughing. The fact that all of his actions fall apart immediately upon so much as accidentally thinking the teeniest bit about them says so much for how bad he was. And he was one of the primary motives for Kirito to do stuff that arc. It was just so forced.
In the penultimate episode, Kirito finally gets to him to fight him and rescue Asuna, and it’s predictably blergh. There’s contrived drama, stupidly executed ‘sentimentality’, more contrived drama as Sugou captures Kirito and Asuna in something else, Sugou tearing Asuna’s clothes off as Kirito lies with a sword through him on the ground forced down by gravity, Sugou molesting Asuna, Sugou moving to rape her… yeah, it’s kind of awful.
The entire time, Sugou is hamming it up and making absurd faces and the creators were all taking this very seriously, and Asuna starts to cry.
And then, being as unbelievably EEEEVIIIIIL as Sugou is, well, can you guess what he does?
He only starts to fucking drink her tears.
BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAHHAHAHHAHAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAAAAAA oh my god, I seriously can’t stop laughing at that.
Fucking SERIOUSLY?!? That’s not even cartoon super-villainy. That’s a fucking parody of cartoon super-villainy. That’s what trolls on fucking 4CHAN PRETEND to do to MOCK how worked up they’re making other users. There’s only one other example I can think of when someone drinking someone else’s tears in victory has EVER been used ever – and that’s Cartman in South Park. Cartman. In South FUCKING Park! THAT IS THE LEVEL THIS VILLAIN IS WORKING AT.
AND WE WERE EXPECTED TO TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY.
I laughed. I laughed so hard. I paused the video and laughed for 10 minutes straight. Tears streamed down my cheeks. My sides ached so hard. I would settle down, look up to the screen to see the still image, and I would laugh again. All the terrible writing, all the fanfiction-tier self-insert Gary-Stuing, all the pandering, all the pain, all of it rolled out with that laughter.
I have never known such catharsis, such relief.