Nobleman’s Responsibilities

Synopsis

Humbert and Raios stumble upon Eugeo training and provokes him into a duel that Eugeo views would be a good opportunity to see their strength. Eugeo fights only Humbert and ends in a draw, but with Humbert’s irritation, Raios hints at further conflict.

The next day, Kirito, Eugeo, Tiese and Ronie go on a picnic together where we learn a little more about Tiese. She’s part of a noble family, though only a low sixth rank noble meaning her life isn’t too different to normal people and have no real powers.

But it does come to light that a friend of theirs, Frenica, in the same year is having issues with her mentor due to ‘unreasonable requests’. The mentor turns out to be Humbert, so Kirito and Eugeo decide to give them a visit after Kirito gives everyone a lecture on sometimes it’s better to choose morality over law.

Humbert was involved in deviant orders to his page, but nothing was against the rules therefore neither Eugeo nor Kirito can do anything about it for now. So they wait and see what else Humbert and Raios will do after issuing them a warning that they will report this.

In a conversation later with Eugeo and Tiese, she tells him that after she graduates she will likely be wedded straight away to someone of similar or one rank higher, but she’s terrified that he could be someone like Humbert. She asks Eugeo that if he ranks high in the Four Empires Unification Tournament and becomes an aristocrat to marry her (implied).

Thoughts

I’m very worried about the foreshadowing in this episode, in that the anime seems to be going back back to the uncomfortable earlier seasons’ methods of showing villainy by sexually abusing female characters. I’m hoping it doesn’t extend to anything more than what’s been said so far as one of my gripes with the series previously was how much they used the sex abuse ‘mechanic’, if you will, to emphasis the villains. There are far more creative ways to do such things without any forced undressing and it can be just as impactful and less uncomfortable. Otherwise for me, as I’ve stated many times before, it feels like lazy writing to reuse the same plot device again and again.

As I’m ranting a bit I may as well rant about the other pet hate and get that out of the way. The other thing being how over the top the villains are. I mentioned two episodes ago how SAO don’t ‘hide’ their villains very well which make them a bit ludicrous at times. Thinking back to some of the best villains I’ve ever read and liked, they’re certainly not over the top and actually very calm and calculating and was involved in evils far more detrimental and devastating than sexual abuse, e.g. the ones that come to mind immediately are Aizen (Bleach) and Light (Death Note).

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s go back to the normal summary and review. So we’re introduced to Tiese and Ronie which was the cliffhanger that we were left with last episode. As mentioned above, I’m terribly worried that they’ll only be used as plot devices in the future episodes to confront Humbert and Raios considering how previously it was all male pages and now it’s all female… But let’s worry about that another time. In terms of actual development for them, sadly they’re nothing special and very formulaic. Though after the harem that Kirito monopolised and having mentioned how having another guy as a protagonist may impact the show, I’m pleased to see that the romantic developments are for Eugeo and not Kirito. Then again, Kirito is aware that these ‘people’ are just data and he does have Asuna anyway.

I’m also interested in why Eugeo and Kirito are ranked fifth and sixth, it feels like this is for a specific reason but I’m not sure we’ll ever get introduced to the third and fourth seat as there’s been not a single mention of them. It makes me question the significance of it, but perhaps I’m reading too much into it.

In any case, with all I’ve said above, regardless of what I want and don’t want to see, all the signs and plotlines are moving in the direction of a big event. Hopefully not what I mentioned, but we’ll see, perhaps a little cliche, but this was very much a ‘calm before the storm’ type episode.