Sword Art Online Ep. 23: Bonds


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*Spoilers Ahead*

This episode of Sword Art Online was fun and entertaining but overall predictable from a while ago. We knew Sugu was going to learn the truth about her cousin, that Sakuya and Alicia would appear at just the right time, and that Kirito was going to somehow reach high into the World Tree. Although these events were easy to spell out, the episode was fun and had just enough action to keep things exciting.

 

The episode began where we left off last time. Sugu’s in a ball of sadness and Kirito is just sitting there outside her door. At least he’s not whispering “Sugu” this time. We learn a tiny bit more about Kirito here, particularly how he turned to online games after learning that his parents weren’t really his and that Sugu wasn’t actually his sister. There’s no time to focus on this as everything moves quickly here. I don’t know if I should feel bad for him or if this was just to be expected.

After Kirito and Sugu log back into ALfheim Online, the unexpected happens. Somehow Recon shows up out of nowhere and confesses his feelings for Leafa. I don’t even know how this is possible! It took Kirito and Leafa a few days to reach Arun while it basically took Recon overnight? To make things even better he can’t fly as fast as our main heroes, he’s timid, and it seems he’s not as high a level. I just don’t get how this works but it’s okay… I’ve learned to try to not question the physics of all anime.

We knew that at one point Leafa and Kirito were going to need to resolve the issues between one another. It left off too awkwardly so what better way to do so than with a duel? This battle is metaphorical for Sugu trying to suppress her feelings for her brother, and maybe to try and distance herself from the Sword Art Online/ALfheim Online character Kirito. Whatever the intended gain, the battle ends with the both of them hugging and spinning in mid air, with Sugu suddenly having a change of heart and declaring her desire to help save Asuna.

  

I’m not really sure how I feel about this turn of events. The mix of storyline elements recently kind of set this up, but at the same time you would expect Sugu to be more devastated than she already is. And now, suddenly, she changes her mind to wanting to help Kirito? This is different from the kind of help she was presenting before, as Kirito apologizes for pushing her away before the SAO incident. It’s like she’s accepted the fact that she can’t be with him but I’m just not really seeing that change. I feel like something is missing. Maybe it’s because I didn’t read the novels?

There’s only one more step for Kirito to make and that’s to make it to the top of the World Tree. This time he has both Recon and Sugu’s help. Hey wait, where was Recon since the last time we saw him? Wouldn’t he have been super-jealous of Kirito hugging Leafa like that?! Regardless, Recon decides to man up a bit and use some super-saiyan magic to self-destruct. This was cool and all that he sacrificed himself but I didn’t feel any emotional attachment to him whatsoever. It’s too bad the hole he created for Kirito to travel through completely closed up so fast. It made his sacrifice completely useless.

  

Of course, as mentioned earlier, Sakuya and Alicia decide to show up just when it’s most convenient. They’ve purchased some super-tough armor and decked out their dragons, and they arrive just in time before Kirito dies again within ALO. There’s not much to say here. With their help Kirito finally makes it through the large number of enemies and reaches the top of the gate to the World Tree. Of course to do this he decides to dual wield once more, this time combining both his and Sugu’s sword into one super powered item. A certain kind of magical spell is cast and he’s able to burst right through to the World Tree. And here I thought Kirito only had magic that had nothing to do with swords and stuff. Yui did mention that he could use his speed skills to make it through, though.

Oh yeah, Yui! Thank goodness Kirito decided to take her with him up to the gate. Without her he wouldn’t have been able to open the door. It turns out the gate was locked by administrators and never intended to actually be opened. Thankfully Kirito kept the credit card that Asuna dropped down to him in the previous episode. Oops, I mean admin card… Yui somehow transcribes the card’s data and uses it to open the door, teleporting them to another location and the episode stops here.

Here's my credit card!

Here’s my credit card!

Yeah the episode was fun and all but everything was predictable and convenient. I know I’ve been complaining these past few episodes but I haven’t been as entertained as I was in the first half of Sword Art Online. Aincrad and everything it had to offer was much more entertaining and interesting than ALfheim. I say this mostly because SAO had that feeling of mystery and an edginess about the theme of death. In ALO Kirito is over-skilled, gets all the ladies (again), and everything just feels cliché. The originality found in the first half of the series has worn off and there’s just not a lot of material for me to eat up.

I believe there are two more episodes left at this point. Let’s hope they don’t disappoint!

Sword Art Online is streamed weekly on Crunchyroll (http://www NULL.crunchyroll NULL.com/sword-art-online).


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About Jared Cyhowski

[Former Staff] Jared is a recent graduate from Fitchburg State University where he studied communications, video production, and English. He enjoys playing video games, watching anime, writing, and of course pizza. His favorite games are Shadow of the Colossus and Final Fantasy IX, but he can’t possibly choose a favorite anime. Jared enjoys following the games industry and observing what will happen next, and he puts out an invitation for discussion on these topics. He loves a great story in these mediums and prefers a stronger narrative design over most features. Jared is personally responsible for creating and managing the Anime section of the website, and hopes to inspired and entertain with everything he writes.