「赤鼻のトナカイ」 (Akahana no Tonakai)
“The Red-Nosed Reindeer”

In a way, I’m a little disappointed that The Red-Nosed Reindeer was only adapted into one episode – in my view it’s quite possibly the most important of all the SAO side stories and we can see some minor pacing issues in how it was handled. Where most of the side stories merely serve to show Kirito in a different light (and introduce new characters with no relation to the main plot), RNR’s events pretty much define Kirito as a person. It’s hard to imagine that what he went through wouldn’t leave emotional scars, not just because of the loss of his friends, but because of his role in their fate.

At the same time, I’m glad that they’re not following the novels word for word – not all light novels and manga are suited for adaption in exactly the way they’re written. Because the SAO side stories were written independently of the main plot, they’re relatively disconnected – they have no real impact on the rest of what happens. Even if RNR should have had a major effect on Kirito, it’s not properly shown until later volumes (though some of his personality in the main plot could potentially be attributed to it). Not only that, but they’re written to be read after the main plot has concluded and thus their character development is misplaced when adapted in chronological order. Combined with time constraints, it should be no surprise that some material ends up being altered. It may not be ideal, but very little ever is.

Precisely because of the decision to use chronological order, SAO has a unique opportunity; while they can’t directly change events (at least not drastically), they can colour them a little differently – work the side stories more effectively into the rest of the plot. Heck, they’ve already done it once with the cameos in the very first episode. At the end of the day, what’s more important? A word for word adaption that often feels disjointed because events and character development don’t coincide properly? Or an adaption which pulls all the material together into a cohesive form, sacrificing only those aspects that are not completely necessary? Sure, we may have missed out on some Asuna development in episode two, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be getting this development later, at a more fitting time.

Just like any other MMO, SAO needs front line fighters to act as tanks and hold off the party’s foes. It’s a little unfair that the Moonlit Black Cats were trying to force someone so obviously unsuited to the role to take on this task – Sacchi’s terror is so blindingly obvious that it can only be imagined the leader doesn’t want to split up the group but can’t afford a burden. I can’t blame her for running away under those circumstances… she herself realises that she’s a burden to the team, yet doesn’t want to be alone.

While Kirito may have chosen to live as a solo player, he obviously still desires company – why else would he have joined the Moonlit Black Cats when there was no true benefit to him beyond their camaraderie? Why he couldn’t have sought out that companionship in the upper echelons of power, I don’t know… I guess it was because the Black Cats were the first to approach him with the idea given his terrible reputation. Of course, they only did so because they were unaware of it and Kirito hid the major pieces of evidence that would give it away (his actual level for one). Had he not done that, chances are the rest of the players would still be alive. Unfortunately, the adaption doesn’t make this particularly clear due to cutting down the moments leading up to the opening of the treasure chest. In the original work, Kirito had a chance to stop them by speaking up but chose not to take it. This feels like one of the more important details that were cut from the episode to me.

Of course, even without it, Kirito’s role in the event and the blame that falls upon him is pretty obvious. There can be no surprise that guilt would weigh him down, especially in face of the promises he made. I have to say that the foreshadowing (and actually much of RNR in general) was a little overdramatic in execution. This isn’t the adaption’s fault though – it felt just like that in the light novel too. It can be hard to feel any real sadness at events when they happen so quickly and are so heavily laden with drama, but there was still a little something in Sacchi’s final speech, delivered by proxy through a voice recording she left behind for Kirito.

I’ve never really been sure on the subject, but the choice of ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ seems to have a deeper meaning to me. The story of a loner – an outcast – who suddenly finds himself helping the others because of his unique skills. There are parallels with Kirito there – his solo status, his joining the Black Cats to help them out despite being different to the rest of them. Whether or not this was actually intentional, I don’t know. It could just be a random Christmas carol Kawahara chose to fit in with the theme.

tl;dr: @MoombaDS – Things felt a little rushed this week but there was entertainment to be had nontheless! #SAO

Random thoughts:

  • Do I blame the leader for throwing himself to his death? Yes, since suicide is never the answer. However, I can understand what he must feel to an extent – not only did he lose the only friends he had in-game all at once, but also all his friends from the real world.
  • Argo still made a debut in the anime – I didn’t think they’d actually leave her out so I can’t say I’m surprised.
  • Klein is a true bro, sacrificing his chance at the resurrection item (admittedly he did see it as a rumour) to hold back the Holy Dragon Alliance so that Kirito could obtain it.
  • Yet, it’s oddly hard to take a crying Hirata Hiroaki seriously. There’s something worryingly comic about it.
  • It was a little disappointing not getting to see any of the undoubtedly awesome battle against the game’s terrifying rendition of Santa Claus.

Full-length images: 02, 08, 10, 17, 31, 33, 34, 35, 36, 39.



End Card


  1. Pretty good episode, never read the novel. May start to eventually but all my time is devoted to Muv Luv Alternate VN right now. I kinda want to see more Asuna but there are still many episodes to come to sedate my hunger.

    M to the Star
    1. Kirito is way to hard on himself, I mean he protected the guild numerous times and managed to leveled them up more quickly, they stayed alive that long thanks to him. There was no way to predict that trap or stop that idiot from opening the chest. The sadeness of the episode got to me, which says a lot of how good it was but I hope next time we see a event to cheer Kirito up because he really needs it and fast.

      1. His guilt didn’t stem as much from the fact that they died, but from the fact that they died when he could have saved them. As said in the post, “Unfortunately, the adaption doesn’t make this particularly clear due to cutting down the moments leading up to the opening of the treasure chest. In the original work, Kirito had a chance to stop them by speaking up but chose not to take it. This feels like one of the more important details that were cut from the episode to me.”

        Show Spoiler ▼

      2. @ColBlitz

        Thanks for the explanation. It shouldn’t be with spoiler tags, as it’s not. I never read spoilers, but felt this one wouldn’t be, and it wasn’t. I mean for others who could benefited from this info.

        Though, if that was the case (hidden detail), then I don’t think that Kirito is to get blamed after all. I mean it’s not like he could have done much more.

      3. One thing I didn’t like was how the skipped on the important parts.

        Show Spoiler ▼

        Those scenes alone are the very defining point of this arc. Instead, the guild members rushed into the chest, Klein’s guild annihilated the opposing guild, and Kirito’s suicidal style of fighting was minimized into his emotionless eyes. It could have been more dramatic.

        As I said earlier, this episode was good but could have been a lot better.

        The Story You Don't Know
  2. As someone who is unfamiliar with the source material, I have qualms about the pacing. Also, I feel like Kirito’s identity is severely underdeveloped at this point. CR’s blurb about the episode is simply – a traumatic event that redefines Kirito’s personality. I get the importance of that, but isn’t it important to establish some kind of base camp first? I don’t think Kirito’s motivations – both for staying a solo player, staying behind with others less knowledgeable than himself (and hiding that).

    But uh, this episode was missing a lot of stuff. Like a fight scene. I asked in IRC how long this series was slated to run, because the pacing felt really really off. Let’s hope some of these things get ironed out.

    1. Oops, sorry for not finishing my sentence. But when I say that this episode is anemic and missing some things, I’m referring to what I feel like would have been a good way to draw out my emotional connection with the show. For example, something that animes love doing when there’s a large timeskip: at least show some frames of what the character is doing for the next 28 floors. We really have no idea what Kirito is doing after his departure from Diabel’s group, and more importantly, how he’s doing it. I have this conflicted view of Kirito as someone who seeks friendship by nature – and this was pointed out, but why does he apparently remain solo so much more? The apparent motivation is that he’s weighed down by some sense of guilt (which I find to be BS, because it’s not really his fault he was a beta tester). Instead, we see Kirito overleveling on low level zones for what I can only assume to be a way to shore up his own safety. What kind of dude is the protagonist, and am I supposed to cheer him on?

      This episode missed a great opportunity to do that by leaving out a fight scene. Fight scenes are a great way to visually SHOW transformations in the mindset of a character. Did Kirito curbstomp ol’ Frosty, or did his thoughts turn more into grief and desperation? He seemed to want to suicide into the boss, but did Klein’s “sacrifice” renew his will to live? There are so many motivations absent that would be evident in just his style of combat. A few minutes could have done so much but it’s just not there.

      I don’t think this is a bad show, by any means, but underdeveloped leads are so tragic for a show. It screams wasted potential. And those often hurt us as viewers more than just being a flat out “bad” show.

      1. Nadi, while you don’t see the CLANG BANG SLICE of the fight in the novel, you did see that he fought with a reckless abandon with no care for his own life. And that he had barely won with just a sliver of health left. The scene itself was heavy and emotional. It’s too bad that none of it made it to the anime.

        Judging by the pacing so far, we’re going to see at least the ALO arc and probably more. I would preferred if they just added more episodes instead and focus on more details in the SAO arc.

      2. I agree with you. I especially would have preferred they show the aftermath of Kirito’s battle. Especially when he says “What….I’m still alive..” that would’ve been awesome.

    2. The thing is, the redefining of characters work on hindsight. Because the novel didn’t go in chronologically order and went straight to the later stages of the game and then explained the reason behind his character in flashbacks and side stories. A lot of things are going to be confusing and feels weird, maybe out of place at times, for the moment but you will get the whole picture once the story progresses a bit.

    3. I play solo in most mmorpg’s I play and I rarely join guilds.So I see a mirror image of how Kiroto acts in my own actions in online games. The complaints about “Wut happened between Floor 2 and floor 23 man?” understandable but any gamer can tell you it’s just plain old mindless grinding,quests and bullshit.

      But yeah, I’m getting the idea that somehow the story relates more to people who have previous serious online mmo experience. A lot of the things that happen in SAO seem totally ridiculous to normal people but somehow these flaws seem to be masked to me by the fact that I fill in the blanks myself quickly as the story moves along.

      1. I agree with you in several respects. I’ve played more than my fair share of MMORPG’s, and I recognize that we shouldn’t have an episode for every floor (obviously). But even 10~ seconds to show how reclusive Kirito was would have been nice to orient my thoughts. He goes from being ostracized to being praised by a group of strangers (that he saved, I guess). I think that cheapens this idea of an internal battle raging on within Kirito’s conscience.

      2. the thing is this was a side story created after the first book to explain why he is the way he his during the course of the novel. so for LN readers Show Spoiler ▼

        which is why i personally feel achronological would have been a better path to take. this episode and the previous episode were given as flashbacks so you don’t really get the context of them until the anime starts going back to the first novel.

        while it worked for S1 of haruhi to be told in achronological order when it was supposed to be chronological, it really looks like an achronological story told in chronological order has less of an impact.

      3. I actually read the novels in chronological order, so I may be biased about this, but I don’t see any problems really with this order of story telling. It would also be rather difficult to do it the other way around in an anime as you said, we are ‘told’ about it happening, so would you have a narrator sumaries this episode? It may work in a book, but it’s not very good for an anime to tell things instead of showing them. Nor does it work very well with having an episode or two of flashbacks.

      4. lol – the novel jumps from 1st floor to I think it’s the 74th. Everything else was dealt with in a handful of flash backs. However flash backs are a pain to work into a show properly.

        This episode was sub par imo – but heh, you can’t be awesome all the time. Should have been two episodes, 1 covering MBC and their fate and the 2nd covering the events of RNR. Again RNR has lots of flash back stuff to MBC events which are never covered on their own. At least not by the point I’ve got to main book, 2nd book, and a couple of the short stories.

        And the reason he joined MBC was because of the friendly and family like atmosphere.

        But I’m glad for all the level skip, you can only live with so much “and Kirito grinds the fields, then joins a boss fight, then goes to the next city” you want to see.

      5. the SAO arc is probably the most popular of the author’s works. I hear he will be rewriting the novels and will detail what happens in each floor. I think that’s probably overkill and people will start complaining that the pacing is too slow. people always have something to complain about.

      6. Yeah, he already started the rewrites. Ep. 2 of the anime is taken entirely from the first novel of the rewrite, “Aria in the Starless Night.” As to the pacing issue, I feel that if people don’t like the level of detail he’s going to go into, they should stick with the originals.

  3. What you’re saying is quite correct “A word for word adaption that often feels disjointed because events and character development don’t coincide properly? Or an adaption which pulls all the material together into a cohesive form, sacrificing only those aspects that are not completely necessary?”

    But I felt like you’re one of those defenders of an rushed anime. Before anyone else defends this episode being rush, let me ask you one thing. If sacrificing aspects that are not completely necessary in order for the story to work out and be understandable to a non-LN reader, then why include Argo now?

    Why wasn’t she included in Episode 2? She was deemed insignificant by you whole lot, so they should cut her out and focus on the most crucial elements of the side-stories right?

    This just proves you wrong. It’s not that they’re sacrificing unnecessary elements, but rather messing it up. Due to the time constraints and a bit of poor planning, it became like this. If it was planned properly, there is no need for Argo to appear.

    Defenders of the Anime NOT being rushed. How about you explain the the “Hi Sachi, Bye Sachi”?

    I have not read the LN, but I felt it was rushed. I could not cry or feel any emotional attachment to any of the characters that died. On top of that, I’m very emotional. I cried while watching many Anime.

    The adaption had potential, but was wasted. No matter how you try to defend it, you got to accept reality that they rushed it.

    1. Also the most annoying comeback is “There is not enough episodes, why can’t you just accept that it’ll be rushed?”

      This is insulting and ridiculing. First of all, if they are able to dedicate the whole season just for SAO, then why not? Why rush it when it had the potential to be a masterpiece?

      And please, come up with facts to defend it. I hate the “I like the Episode, so it’s good enough, now you’re wrong because you don’t like it.”

      It is not wrong to criticize when something goes wrong. I wouldn’t want an word for word adaption, but I want an adaption that is coherent.

      SAO explores the interaction with characters, not fight scenes. If you think it’s alright to rush and ruin the development just because you don’t care for the side-stories, please back off. You don’t deserve to even defend because it’s your personal preference. The fact that it’s rushed is a reality, not something that’s decided whether you like it or not.

      1. I don’t think ANYONE is saying it isn’t rushed. LN readers all agree that they cut out a lot of material, this will always be the case in an adaptation, ALWAYS.
        Now the question shifts to was it an acceptable loss?
        Because in this episode, the only thing they cut out from the LN that I can think of off the top of my head was
        Show Spoiler ▼

    2. here’s the bigger problem if Argo was to be directly included last week(LN spoiler):
      Show Spoiler ▼

      Still, the origin of Kirito’s fears was delivered. I almost shed a tear in the end (given that I only read a section of RNR…)

      1. Yep, I think A-1 did a good job on knowing what the can cut and what they have to keep.

        Like in episode 2. Show Spoiler ▼

        Sure, they don’t actually need to put Argo in here as well but why not? At least it pleases me to finally see her in the anime form. Even if it’s just for this exact one scene.

      2. They are an axcelente job in the adaptation so far, I´ve read the light so I know what I´m talking about, yes they cut some aspects but Kirito´s trauma was explain. All this are side stories, in the first volume they just comment about this stuff, so now when Kirito´s true personality will begin his development.

  4. As a LN reader the essence of this episode was alright in my opinion. It did feel that it might of lack the emotions and maybe a bit of reluctance on why he didn’t want to join at first. Could of used a bit of narration some inner thoughts on Kirito to help move this part of the story along.

  5. I really liked this episode. But I thought it was pretty freaking weird transitioning to Christmas time and having the happy Christmas music playing RIGHT after the guild gets massacred. Tragic Event and then suddenly happy Christmas music yay!

  6. I teared up when Sachi left him the message as a xmas gift (T_T)! I mean, death flags were everywhere, but despite the pacing issues, the episode managed to make me feel like the MBC’s deaths meant something, especially Sachi’s, which is pretty impressive for a stand-alone episode.

  7. I really don’t know what to make of SAO.

    I watched the first 2 episodes as a LN fan and while I liked the first episode the second only gave a me a ‘okay’ feeling.

    I watched this episode just as a anime fan and came away with a ‘meh’ feeling. There just is no emtional investment from my side for the characters in the episode. I couldn’t bring myself to care about anyone in the Black Cats of the Full Moon nor Kirito’s interaction with them. And I think that is the problem. You never feel any urgency in the fights and just resignation with the trap. There is no racing heart or edge of your seat or relief at a narrow victory or sadness when things don’t end happily.

    I’ll keep watching strictly as a anime fan, but my expectations are rock bottom.

    1. Its still actually one of the better shows this season…….. I believe that everyone set their expectations too high after the first episode….and dissapoint themselves when light novels are usually butchered by production studios who can’t(don’t(won’t(shan’t(fail to)))) use their upmost resources to create masterpieces…………..I wanted ufotable to produce this series after their superb adapations of tales of symphonia and the rexent fate zero ( though you cunt go wrong wit fate zero)

  8. First of all I really like the ‘this is still a game’ in SAO (the appearing menu screen and all), this is one of the things that differentiate SAO from other RPG anime. Second, I am thankful they decide to air it in a chronological order. It’s a shame that the developer hadn’t include the extra “The First Day” from Novel Volume 8, that chapter tells us the other reason Kirito preferred going solo (no spoiler, read it if you want to know more). But fortunately, after the more than disappointing episode ‘BEATER’ (since I would have preferred that they explained more that most of the 2000 deaths in the first month of SAO are beta testers), this episode thoroughly fulfilled my SAO obsession. And the cello BGM when Kirito gives the rare item to Cline, brought me near tears! Next week is Pina time! Thankfully after 2 weeks of depressing episodes, we’ll get a more happy one.

    1. Eh, personally I think RNR would’ve been far better dealt with as a flashback story, with at 2 episodes allocated to it.

      As it is right now, it’s just so-so in my book, which is a shame since it’s one of the more powerful story in the SAO arc.

  9. I thought this was well executed. I may not have teared up, but my nose got a little warm during Sachi’s humming. The Santa battle was not described in the LN either.

    Next episode is Silica’s turn. Finally time for some Kirito imba OP-ness. Can’t wait till we get into the actual story.

    1. I agree with you. I have never read the Light Novels, but for me this episode was not only well-executed but well-paced. I didn’t find it too slow nor too fast but right in the middle. They showed the interaction between the guilds, as well as showing the personal connection Kirito had with Sachi. So, when Sachi’s letter came after her death, it really hit home emotionally – I was actually sad with goosebumps.

      I may not have teared up, but Sachi’s letter and the group’s letter suiciding really imply that hard-gut wrenching feeling Kirito feels. My prediction is that this event will develop Kirito’s character more. While not immediately, based on what I’ve seen, I think it will be shown throughout the SAO game itself.

      Overall, I enjoyed this episode, SAO and HxH are the two anime I look forward and anticipate each week.. and all it took was the first episode of SAO and I’m still eagerly waiting for it weekly and excited lol

  10. I would have liked this episode as a flashback instead; chronologically it feels like a spoiler for Kirito’s mysterious loner personality (how he went from normal loner to super loner) and his emotional scar towards guilds.

    I was upset with the pacing from the start since I wanted to know what happened after Kirito went through the door last episode (isn’t it exciting to know what happens on a new floor?).. also now he’s suddenly jumped xx levels and x floors since that and the show hasn’t shown us enough about the basics of the game or more scenery yet. (I want to see the scenery please!) And if they’re going chronologically, whatever happened to Rondo of the transient sword? Did it never happen?

    Episode aside, I am VERY happy and impressed with the speed & quality of Moomba’s posts. ^_^GJ!

    1. I think it’s because it’s not published in a volume version yet. They probably had only wanted to cover volume 1-2 (and hopefully 3-4) of LN. If that’s so, the additional scattered chapters (in volume 8 and others) wont be included as well. Pity.

    2. Oh, and in which part of the SAO LN had there ever about what happened when they opened a new floor? Never. None. It just say ‘activated the door’ and that’s it.

      1. Aw, that’s a pity. It was the first new floor too; it should have been significant to show the impact.
        The Rondo chapter has some details about the 2nd floor opening.
        Show Spoiler ▼

    3. Well, about Aria/Rondo Show Spoiler ▼

  11. So within 1 episode, they went from floor 1 to floor 49? Now that’s quite a leap!! Suddenly half way home. Psst, no matter what, this is Still way better than Accel World.

  12. I find it funny really that the SAO and AW post were out almost at the same time.
    One goes “rage rage rage rage rage rage rage rage”, the other goes “rush rush rush rush rush rush rush rush”.
    So amusing.

    1. But you gotta admit both episodes give off those feeling though.

      With how Haruyuki deals with the situation in AW it’s pretty painful to watch (and at one point, borderline annoying), so of course the ‘rage’ will ensue.

      And this episode of SAO is kind of ‘rushed’, so it will be no surprise that people might complain a bit about it being rushed.

    1. Rushed? Yes. You can’t help it. Anime time limit is a drag and they have to leave or rush some things out just to fit the story.

      Like what happened to a number of LN based anime, before and now.

      The Moondoggie
      1. Quality > Quantity – But it looks like they’d rather adapt as many as they can, which is a pity.

        The awesome thing about the light novel is that you know exactly what’s going through the main character’s state of mind (as if he’s telling the story) – which made it a great read.

      2. The problem is that will a book can tell you what the protagonist thinks all the time so would you need a narator to do the same in an anime. And it’s not that easy to incorporate a narator and make it good.

      3. This is why I feel we will never see a Fate-Heaven’s feel movie/ova. What made that arc awesome were the conflicts that goes on within the character’s mind. How do you animate something like that? Do you have the character enter into a monologue every few scenes? What are they doing during those monologues? Do you pause the animation during then? Won’t it get old?

  13. The events of the last two episodes would definitely have an impact on Kirito, but I think people are missing the most important detail in all of this. If there was any doubt, or rather, any hope that the game creator lied and dying in the game also kills you in the real world, that is gone now.

    Finding a unique event item whose description confirms that 10 seconds after your character derezzes you die IRL would be devastating to the morale of the remaining population, especially Kirito.

    1. I think Kayaban Akiko didn’t lie. If he did then you would see lots of those revival crystals all over SAO but this crystal only appears only once a year but only has a “10 sec before death” to revive a person on it as if it was put on purpose in the description.

      1. It could still be a lie as descriptions are just text inserted in. Obviously though I don’t think that he is lying either but to the characters in world there isn’t and 100% confirmation unless they are on the outside (It is probably more of a 99.999% certainty with that slight little hope of it not being true).

    2. Well, from what we know, death isn’t immediate. Characters are able to gasp out a few last words, and take a few seconds to shatter even after their hp drops to zero. Perhaps there’s a lag between “dies in SAO” and “dies IRL”, during which time an item like this could be used.

  14. Just 3 episode in story and we get heartwreck drama now,I don’t expected this,not at all.

    Once again SAO proved to be best anime of 2012 not only fantasy style action MMRPG with vivid graphic but a lot of emotion involved,nearly made me cry.


  15. At the risk of starting another argument chain, I found this episode to be very satisfying and (to me) much better paced than the 2nd episode. However, is this truly the case, or is this the result of my having read the light novels and being happy that they didn’t cut much? Would anyone be willing to participate in an informal poll? Just two quick questions:

    1)Did you read the LN?
    2)What did you think of the execution of episode 3? (Well done, rushed, choppy, etc.)

    1. 1. Yes
      2. Both well done and a bit rushed though. IMO, they can span this into 2 episodes and cover more minor details (that is not too important but would be nice to have) in it. But objectively, the episode is quite well done. It covers things that need be to covered. The feeling is about right, especially the last scene.

    2. 1. No.
      2. Rushed. I must be in the minority here, but it felt severely disjointed to me. One big event after another with no slow moments. I couldn’t really feel any emotional attachment to the side characters. Yes, Sachi’s death was sad and unfortunate, but it would have had more of an impact had I seen more scenes of the team’s bonding. I also felt very confused by how Kirito went from solo at end of episode 2 to “okay, I’ll join your guild” at the start of episode 3.

    3. 1. Never Read the LNs but thinking about it 😛
      2. Very Well Done and not Rushed. While some complain that it was merely sad and no connection, I at least felt the connections of the impact on Kirito based on Sachi’s death and then later the leader dying as well. I can definitely see how both will impact him here on out.

    4. 1) Yes
      2) Two episodes for side stories would be ideal to cover all the little details in full but as I already said that’s probably not a luxury they have. That being said this episode covered all the critical points similar to the last.

      I would call it more of a long discussion rather than an argument. (It was interesting was it not?, ~9k+ words FUN!) Plus, I’m not sure what there is in your post here for me to argue with. If you want to continue the previous discussion it is probably better to keep on the original page/thread.

    5. 1. Yes
      2. No emotional impact as I stated earlier. I think the scenes of Kirito pushing himself by continous battling to meet the lvl of the Santa event, his interaction with Klein both at the beginning and end of the RNR chapter and having it as a flashback event would’ve had a greater impact as you see Kirito’s current self and past self.

    6. 1. No. (but i’m thinking of starting..)
      2. I thought it was great! It didn’t feel rushed to me at all, all of the events kinda paced towards each moment and the fact that those characters were going to die was predictable to me. so it wasn’t like i felt the need to be emotionally attached anyway.

    7. People who think this is rushed, if it’s not too much trouble, could you also add why you think it was rushed? For example, for me:
      1. Yes
      2. Act 3 felt rushed. Between Kirito a Klein, a lot of things were left unsaid, although as the audience, we had a good understanding of the meaning behind their words. I kind of wish they gave us a few more minutes for that feeling to sink in. Also, Act 3 felt a little disjointed (it may be because there should have been a commercial in between). I think the episode might have benefited if the intro started with Kirito and Argo conversation, with Act 1 and 2 being told as a flashback (Ala Batman Begins). It would help bridge the gap between how Kirito went from a outcast but noble beater at the end of episode 2 to the suicidal grinder at the beginning of Act 3. I would have liked it to be structured this way because what was more important than Sachi’s death was how it would have affected Kirito in the future.

    8. 1) No, and I’m fine that way XD.

      2) I agree that it felt a tad disjointed and a bit rushed, but from what I heard this was more of a side story anyway. If they make up for it in the ‘main’ storyline then its all good. I do wish some things were explained more, as I’m very much interested in all the mechanics of the game itself. Thats one big thing AW has on SAO right now imo.

    9. 1. No
      2. I think this episode is as great as past episodes. Somehow for me, Sachi’s death isn’t as impactful as Klein’s interactions with Kirito. There’s this kinda…I dunno, but they’re relationships just seems sad to me.

    10. 1. Yes
      2. If I had not read the light novel, this would have been a good episode, but sadly I have. What we should take from this is another lesson about how light novels will predominantly trump their anime adaptations.

    11. 1) Yes
      2) It was good, but not well done. The important points mostly got covered, but somehow it lacks in the emotional department. I agree that 2 episodes for this SS would be too much as well. But still better than episode 2.

      Overall, episode 1: Amazing!!, episode 2: bad, episode 3: acceptable.

    12. 1. Yes
      2. Although some elements were not shown in the anime and had the feeling of being disjointed at times, I think the execution was pretty well done considering time constraints. I remember feeling pretty sad when Sachi died in the LN, which I felt also in the anime. This was one of my favorite side stories from SAO.

    13. 1. no / but if any1 tells me where to get english one I d read it
      2. compared to 1st and 2nd eps I found this one rushed. There was no real reason given why he joined guild as he probably had saved more people then them… and 2nd skipping the battle was wort thing to do for so called all action game they dont give us a thing…
      3. I do find it is probably cosz they have limit of episodes but still I find 1 ep of this show delivering more then 100 eps of any shonen stuff…

    14. 1) no

      2) I think this arc would had more impact stretched into two instead of one shows. I yielding even deeper relationship with the entire group would had made the conclusion with all their deaths stronger

    15. Hokay, going by the standard that if you were complaining or had to make excuses for the episode (ie, I didn’t like how it was done, but I’m not going to get my panties in a bunch) results so far:

      From LN readers, about 6/10 were satisfied
      From non-readers, about 5/9 were satisfied

      Granted, the sample size is so small as to be laughable, and this is really more proof of correlation than causation, but it appears so far that having read the LN doesn’t drastically affect one’s perception about the quality of an episode.

    16. 1.Yes I’ve read all of the stories and recently reread them all 2 times while travelling… Stupid 15 hour plane flights and 10 hour train rides.

      2. The RNR episode is still quite unnecessary because in the main story there were always little bits of the flashback with the true story left out… due to it not really contributing to the plot. Sure it contributes to the character but it may do well to have Kirito start out as the mysterious badass then develope his insecurities.

      Suppa Tenko
  16. Damm it, this was a sad episode. I knew something bad might happen to the Black Cats since i saw the PVs and my worse fears came true. As Kirito was trying to fight off the enemies, one by one, his guild members were killed. I wanted Sachi(Oh why did she have the same name as the other Sachi of Tsukihime) to at least survive. I wanted Kirito to save her and mange to get out together out of that dungeon.

    But it didn’t. She was killed right in front of his eyes. I couldn’t bear to see her last moments.
    Kirito’s determination to revive Sachi was admirable. So admirable that he was risking his life leveling up to prepare himself fighting Nicholas the Renegade to get his revival item or die to redeem himself. And then came the kicker. The items works but only before ten seconds after the person dies. The look on Kirito’s face was depressing.

    And then came the tear jerker. Sachi’s Christmas message for him. I cried hearing what she wanted to say to Kirito. It was so sad.

    Even though they didn’t show most of the fights, the episode did hit our emotions well. 9 out 10.

  17. As a LN reader, I really can’t see the basis for these “rushed” comments. For me the bigger issue is the chronological story telling. For those that haven’t read the LNs, a lot of the concerns of the show seeming rushed are merely a contextual issue I think. The story wasn’t told in order originally, so when viewing it in chronological order a lot of things don’t make sense because the past two episodes were context driven. Or in other words the events were originally intended to be looked at as hindsight.

    As for the rushed comments from LN readers, I really think that’s owed to either an individual wanting a literal adaptation, which just can’t happen all the time. Or an individual giving more importance to specific characters or scenes than they actually had. To use another Haruhi example, the last episode of the Melancholy arc Show Spoiler ▼

    Kyon actually had a good amount of internal monologue but they only had what he said out loud. I personally disagreed with that seeing as how they did utilize a good amount of his internal thoughts already but I don’t think the exclusion ruined the episode. Hell even To Aru removes a lot of Toma’s internal monologue as well.

    But by the reaction of some of the LN readers you’d think they just decided to take a piss on the book. Were expectations overhyped? Yes, but as it stands right now I don’t think it’s anywhere near the level of how Guilty Crown or Sacred Seven failed to deliver. Oh god, Sacred Seven had horrible pacing issues.

    1. well that’s what i get for jumping into the comments without reading the article. it’s funny how i was thinking kind of similar to moomba but with different conclusions.

    2. I agree with your points. I don’t see where a lot of the complaints come from either, It’s like this was the first anime adaptation of a LN for all of these people.
      Anime only viewers see these episodes and wonder: “Wait, what happened to floor x-y? They skipped it? RUSHED” – Those weren’t covered in the novel as well fyi. >.>
      LN readers see these episodes and go: “OMG they cut out scene A and B! RUSHED” – Again, it is fine to cut things out as long as it does not severely cripple the story. I mean really, the only thing they cut from this was
      Show Spoiler ▼

      and if any of you say that makes or breaks the scene, I will hit you with Volume 1 of Horizon.

      1. We all knew there were gonna be cuts. This is an adaptation of a book. We should all know by now that books will for the most part, surpass their adaptations. Would really like to see if someone would like to get slapped by Horizon “LIGHT” novel. XD

  18. Never read the LN either.

    All I can say is that as soon as I saw the words, “I’ll protect everyone” being thought by Kirito, all I could think was, “Well, he just screwed them over”.

  19. The rudolph the red nosed reindeer song never sounded so depressing. I’ve never read the novels but SAO has a pretty dark story and I will be reading them for more insight into SAO. Just something I need to clear up though: It only takes one person or party to beat the final dungeon and the whole trapped population is free or only those who beat the final boss themselves are set free.

  20. Is ok if any other LN story turn into anime and they cut stuff here and there and rush it but SAO has been one of my favorite LN ever since I first read it, it just such an epic read. So for them to adapt into anime and not fully anime all those important events in the LN is just totally inacceptable. If I knew they gonna butcher the storyline here and there, skip stuff, rush events, I honestly rather SAO not being anime at all, at least the LN will always leave a good impression on me.
    I just don’t understand so far SAO has a better storyline but in terms of LN turn into anime, I really think accel world does a better job at giving us novel material, they almost skip none of the events in the novel in Accel World and follow the storyline nicely, why can’t they just do the same with SAO.

  21. People need to quit bitching about differences between the novel and the anime and just enjoy the show.

    Did the episode feel a bit rushed? Yes. Were there developments they could have expanded on with an extra episode? Yes. Did either of those things detract from the story enough to make me cry any less when Sachi died? No!!

  22. Two things I do find it weird even during LN is

    1. Why do they ask a tiny little girl whos clearly scare of being in the frontline to play a tank? You got all these big strong man around her and they ask a tiny little girl to be a tank >_<, seems a bit mean to me.
    2. How come they can't tell Kirito actual lvl, it might be something new in SAO but for all the MMO I had ever played and I mean every single one of them, when someone joins a guild the guild leader and almost everyone would know the lvl’s of its member. So I join don’t get how he can high his actual lvl.

    1. In SAO i don’t think there is as much information sharing by default (You can’t inspect people’s stats/equipment/details directly) maybe because he thought of the implications when his little death game started up.

    2. You can’t see a player’s Name/skills/Level/Equipment in SAO.
      The only way know a person’s name is 1) As was shown in episode 2, through a party, or 2) by challenging them to a duel.
      I don’t think there is a way to tell a person’s level unless the person tells you himself. Correct me if I am mistaken on this.

    3. 1. Why do they ask a tiny little girl whos clearly scare of being in the frontline to play a tank? You got all these big strong man around her and they ask a tiny little girl to be a tank >_<, seems a bit mean to me.

      seriously what a bunch of dicks! unfortunately, there’s no magic and I don’t think there’s ranged weapons either. but seriously they should have just made her a DPS or a trade character!

      “waaaah i’m scared!”

      “don’t worry about being scared even though if you die here you die in real life. here take this sword and board you’ll be okay if you tank all the nasty hits for us!”

      i think the only significant thing that they left out was that when they found the treasure chest, the group took a vote. kirito knew it was a trap, but they asked him: do you have a good reason why not open it? so he kept quiet not wanting to reveal his level, so him and sacchi voted no while the other three voted yes to open the chest.

      1. As much as it sucked, I seriously doubt anyone of those guys forced her into that position. They simply encouraged her to get stronger and felt that the quickest way to do so, for all their safety, was to turn her into a frontline fighter. Sachi could’ve left the Guild at anytime and worked on her livelyhood skills (Blacksmith, Inn Owner, Merchant…etc…), but she chose to be with a group of adventurers.

    4. 1. That’s my gripe with this part of the story as well. In the novel, they only justified moving her to the front line because the other back line attackers are better at it. So they force her to be the tank? That’s the most critical of all the roles in a MMO being that you have to be a leader on the field as well as well geared. I am sure the author knew that but there was no other way to move this plot flaw forward. The leader of the guild was portrayed as caring and responsible so why did he fail to see the flaw as well? Why didn’t he take up the role of the tank instead? I think in the end he knew he was partly at fault and the guilt from that and from having his entire guild die drove him to jump.

      2. Game mechanics make it so you can’t see someone’s level unless you enable that option to allow people to see your screen. Show Spoiler ▼

      Another plot flaw is when Sachi said she saw Kirito’s level when she was looking over at him when she slept in his room.

      Anyway I like that you can’t see someone’s level. It adds flavor to this story/situation. Of course if this actually happened in a real MMO, I’d be crying foul with the rest of you.

      1. Sachi discovered Kirito’s level the same way in the LN. Game menus are visible to other people, but info is not displayed publicly (i.e. you can’t tell someone’s stats, name, or other details by looking at them, but if they open a window, you can read their stats off of it).

      2. 1. Someone being stupid is not a plot flaw, it’s something that happens every day in real life.

        2. That is how it works in SAO, it can even be used for more sinister things then just peeking at someones stats.
        Show Spoiler ▼

    5. Just so you know, a tank has better survival rate than other roles, thanks to the equipments the party would have given him/her. So letting Sachi become one was a good decision by the Black Cats.

  23. This episode owned. It went by so quickly. That can’t be a bad thing. I was watching bakemonogatari yesterday and i looked at the time and it said 13 minutes in, while it felt like it had already been 20 minutes …

  24. By the the way, that’s the rat girl character everyone was whining about. Good to see her.

    Keita bought a house. A real nice house. Now that house won’t get sold on the SAO market with that kind of a depressing tale behind it. Why Did you touch that stupid chest yellow cape.

    But still yellow cape got the worst death man. ganged up by MOBS. Super harsh.

    1. “But still yellow cape got the worst death man. ganged up by MOBS. Super harsh.”

      I felt SO bad for that guy. He got freaking wrecked by those mobs. Look at the pic where he’s opening the chest too. He’s so happy! Then he gets completely raped ! Poor guy 🙁

  25. -After Sachi’s death, it shifted to Christmas instantly as if nothing happened.
    My thoughtts:
    -I didn’t get to see Kirito yell after he found out the 10sec before death value of the Crystal.
    -I didn’t get to hear Saoi Hayami singing Rudolf the Red-nose Reindeer. T_T Show Spoiler ▼

    -Everything was rushed.

    Welp, I can’t blame the animators for squeezing this into 24min. Broadcasting time takes money after all just airing one episode.

    1. I actually preferred that she hummed it. Unless the english is grammatically correct (i dont mind accents), I would rather hear humming than mangled english which would have completely changed the mood of the scene.

  26. This episode was good, but I didn’t feel emotionally connected. There was not enough time for Sachi and Kirito character development. The pacing was just a bit off for me. But still sad for Kirito to lose one of his few friends in a terrible way

    1. On the contrary, I found this episode to be quite moving. At the beginning of the episode, Kirito was level 40, a hint that he had spent a lot of time alone to level up himself. Then he met a group that gave him companionship and hope. Their encounter might have been brief, but not unreasonable to develop strong emotions. The death incidence was timestamped at June. That implied that “6 months” (reality time or virtual time) had passed when the Christmas night special event took place. There was enough time to take a psychological toll on Kirito’s mind. This is because Kirito still felt guilty as a beta tester. So he is constantly looking for ways to seek redemption. Unfortunately, people do die. Every time this happens, he convinced himself that he failed again and feels only more guilty. Then the self-blaming cycle continues. This is great storytelling technique to set up something big. I am looking forward to the ending.

    2. I think this episode would have benefited from an ABA format (aka a flashback episode). You start off with Kirito and Argo’s conversation before going back to talk about Sachi and her death. This way it does 2 things:
      1. it bridges this episode with episode 2, where it ended with Asuna asking Kirito “what would become of you?” Kirito and Argo’s conversation would then be the immediate answer
      2. it bridges Act 3 with the rest of the episode. It removes the time skip in the middle of the episode (which may have been the reason you weren’t as emotionally invested as you would have liked).

  27. This time around I am happy I decided to finish LN before watching the anime. There are inner thoughts that couldn’t be explained during such a short time frame, and those really add depth to the story. However I am not saying it was a rushed episode; all the important things are included.

    The whole thing was already very depressing when I read it. But seeing and hearing it is a totally different story. Since I knew what would happen, it was hard to see everyone so merry at the beginning. When, at the end, Kirito listens to Sachi’s voice mail, the emotions built up throughout the whole episode (perhaps even from when I read LN) just exploded and I cried 🙁 Looking forward to next week’s episode already!

  28. As a non-LN reader, I’m also in the camp that says this episode was rushed. I mean seriously, it’s like we’re being shown random scenes from the novels instead of a coherent tale. I don’t mind the setup they’re taking with the story, but give us some context first. Drop some hints. Develop the characters we’re following. It’s hard to feel emotionally involved when I hardly know these people.

    I’m not saying it’s a bad show, mind you, and it’s still entertaining, but the show just won’t let me in. I’m feeling like a bystander instead of someone immersed in the story. Dammit SOA, calm down a little and I’ll like you a lot more. It’s not like the novels are finished yet anyway, so there’s no need to rush towards the end.

      1. I disagree. This chapter in the LN actually played out as a flashback and not a time skip (there is a difference between the 2). Personally, I think this episode would have been better as a flashback. I still loved the episode though — I have no qualms about the content of this week’s episode, just merely the format.

      2. Show Spoiler ▼

  29. Wow. Looks like Kirito had a very sad Christmas/”fight before Christmas” in this episode. If next episode is another SAO side story, we’ll get to see Silica the beast tamer, right?

    I think I’m gonna vote Klein as a top contender if there was a contest to determine who is the most “bro character” of the Summmer 2012 Anime Season. His samurai-themed guild (with the crest of the Takeda clan, no less) is a nice contrast to the western feel of most guilds in SAO.

      1. I specifically said Klein would be a contender for the “most bro character” of the Summer 2012 Anime Season. Fate/Zero wasn’t in that season – so Rider doesn’t qualify.

  30. As a LN reader, I did enjoy this episode knowing what going to happen and prepare for the rush. It impossible to present all details in the Novel in one episode after all. As long as they got to the main point I’m okay with that.

  31. This episode went too fast. I guess they can’t fit the whole Light Novel in a 24-26 series anime. And I didn’t expect Sachi to die because of her appearance in the opening. I guess there are no plot armor. I thought she was going to survive with Kirito. And I have a question, how did Klein and his guild fight the other players in a lvl_field? Was there a duel invitation or was PK enabled on that map?

      1. It uses a similar PvP rule set as many Korean MMO’s. You can attack a player if you want outside towns, but your icon changes color from green to orange and then you wont get into towns without guards attacking. This will go away after spending some time grinding xp, but another downside is that other players wont turn orange when they attack an orange player. Notorious PK players will accumulate so much bad karma that they will be (effectively) permanently orange.

  32. Truth be told, I would have liked to see this story as a three episode arc. There would have been more time to tell the story and it’s ultimate outcome. That aside, this was a very good episode. I felt bad for Kirito. The reviving item only having an effect within 10 seconds of a person dying was salt in the guy’s wound. Poor Sachi, the opening animation had me fooled. Klein is most definitely a true bro, he’s one of the few characters in the series so far, aside from Asuna and bald dude with the goatee, that has been genuine and legit. You could tell it was breaking the guy’s heart to see Kirito like that.

    Mike F.
    1. Oh, I really don’t think so. Never mind the fact that we would have to wait 2 weeks for the conclusion of the arc, the episode in the middle would have been filled with a bunch of angst of how Sachi is afraid of dying. It would have been a grueling struggle to reach that conclusion for a side story.

  33. I really love this episode, even though I do agree that it was a bit rushed and would be nice if it was flushed properly in like 2 episodes instead of rushing it into one,but I still like how it was executed nonetheless. Take in mine that I am not a novel reader. I do have questions to you novel readers out there, this isnt really a question that will give huge spoilers but I would appreciate it if you can just let me know:

    1. Will Kirito still stay depressed and “emo” (although I would understand why) in the next episode “The Black Swordsman”?
    2. Just for curiosity but in this ep. Kirito is lvl.70 (pretty impressive for a solo player), but is there a limit in their levels? Like is lvl99 or 100 the maximum?
    3. Beater = Beta Tester + Cheater, is Kirito the only one who has this reputation?
    4. Is Kirito the only solo player in the game? Since I know its a life or death game so thats why everyone forms a guild/party, but is Kirito well known because he’s the only solo player?
    5. Last but not the least, anyone confirmed how many episodes this series will run?

    1. 1. Nope, he’ll be more ‘cheerful’ in the next episode, but still a bit emo.
      2. Normally a player should be 10 lv. more than the lv. they are in to be safe. So at level 20, you at least should have to be lv. 30 in order to safely roam around by yourself. Has to do with hp and ‘battle healing points’ (not telling more, it’d probably explained next episode).
      3. Kirito is (supposedly) not the only beater. There are supposed to be other experienced gamers among beta testers, but most of the betas are beginner gamers.
      4. Again, rare, but they said because he’s REALLY strong and he wears all black Kirito is the most well known.
      5. They said SAO will run 26 episode (which is why with this pace I’m hoping the story will continue until ALO).
      6. Yes, more like Asuna will give Kirito a purpose to fight (oops spoiler).

      1. Disregard my last comment – I didn’t consider the time skip at the ends.

        I think they will include ALO, because the anime website lists Lyfa, the second main character in ALO, as part of the cast (on the third position even).

      2. There is? *see the site* There is! Yes! So that means 13 episodes of SAO and 13 episodes of ALO. And just to make clear people, SAO (and especially ALO) is actually a ROMANCE-adventure story, not adventure-romance story. If you want more fighting scene, wait until they make GGO.

    2. 4. Argo is another solo player. We will get to see a few more later that are also decent levels. Kirito is mostly unique in that he is also a front line player that helps clear the content, wich is also what makes him fairly well known.

    1. second spoiler is a VERY heavy proceed at your own peril!
      Show Spoiler ▼

      Show Spoiler ▼

      1. Thank you for letting me in on that great info! Wow man that would be awesome to properly see it animated and I hope that they wont just rush it or time skip it like they did in this episode. I would hate it if all of a sudden the next episode they will show Kirito with Asuna right away without actually showing how they got reunited again.

        Sorry for another question RickyMack, but from what you mentioned about Asuna, did her Show Spoiler ▼

      2. pretty rambling spoiler with a pin point citation

        Show Spoiler ▼

      3. @RickyMack: Truly appreciate you replying back and answering my questions. So I guess I cant blame the anime for having weird pacing then since as you mentioned that the novel itself has inconsistencies. I’ll start reading the novels from now on, I didnt know that a fair amount of it was already translated, thanks again for the info!

  34. Christmas Eve Kirito style!!! (Had to make this joke lol, sry)

    I haven’t read here yet, but it feels oky 4 me. It didn’t feel too rush 4 me even though I hv a sense tht they r skipping things. But it still makes me feels sad too.
    And can you not blame the leader frm suicide, he just lost his entire club mates…..
    Sachi T_T I knew it was coming but still…. This reminds me a lot of the whole Show Spoiler ▼

    stuff again…. And the resurrection crystal….. Fate is so cruel towards Kirito…
    I can’t blame yellow cape either too….I mean its natural 4 you to open a chest when u see 1 ryte??

    Oky let move on to other things….. Wht the deal w/h Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer??? Is it some symbolism? And we get to see twintail n. ep ryte?

  35. I’ll admit that the pacing was pretty shoddy but from what I’m told this is supposed to be a side story. In essence the entire point of this story is to bring some massive survivor guilt for Kirito. I don’t really see a decent way for this to get across, the writers could spend more episodes with the Cats then kill them off, but that would waste precious air-time. Of course the way they did it this episode was rather rushed, but Sachi was more than enough to get the point that Kirito was attached to them. The point would still be that Kirito would get depressed.

  36. I’m personally enjoying this show. I feel that the pacing so far is as fast at could possibly be done. I’m pretty sure that the audience could fill in the gaps, and not be left wondering.

    I felt as I was watching this episode that the Black Cats were doomed–it was like watching a train wreck: you know what is going to happen, yet you can’t look away.

    While there definitely could be more connecting scenes, they would belong in a hour/episode, rather than 1/2 hour. To me the story telling is compressed as far as it is feasible. I accept that.

    1. The novel explained that experience pts are distributed by how much you contribute to an encounter. Kirito purposely fell back a lot of times and only intervened when necessary to cover for sachi to allow the group to grow as quickly as possible. They actually progressed very quickly and were soon only 10 levels behind the front lines. He actually goes off at night to solo by himself to keep leveling.

      He didn’t want to alienate himself from this group especially since they were so nice and inviting. He felt like he had a home there. If he revealed he was actually 20-30 levels higher than them, they would feel awkward and it would reveal to them that he lied.

      The conflict within himself was that everyone would still be alive if he had followed his instincts (to not allow them to open the treasure chest) and to reveal his true level so he could convince them to listen to him.

  37. Wait, who are these Holy Knights again?

    I more or less guessed Kirito signed Sachi’s Death Flag by his “promise to protect them”, but surely her and her guild’s demise came a bit too soon and sudden? All before the commercial break to boot.

    Kinny Riddle
    1. In the anime, no it wouldn’t have mattered. In the LN, had he told them he’s level 70, and very experienced, they would have listened to him when he told them not to open the chest. But they cut that part out of the anime. This thing is horribly rushed.

    1. Show Spoiler ▼

  38. Ok first to clear things up, i watched the anime episode and then i read the light novel’s corresponding chapters. Its from this viewpoint that i bring up my opinions so it might differ from yours.

    In My Opinion, I felt that this episode kinda suffered the same problem as Episode 2. Well, it was true that it was rushed(some lines didn’t make sense till you read the LN), but i doubt giving it 2 episodes per side story would have made it better. If we were to analyze it, lets say that we gave Aria of the Starless Night or Red Nosed Reindeer 2 episodes, where would the first part of Aria or RNR stop at? And would the material be enough for it to be a 2 episode long thing so that it wouldn’t feel draggy? Would the feelings of Aria or RNR be properly captured if there was a week long wait in between the 2 episodes? I highly doubt it. Perhaps if they had some way of extending the episode timing by 50%, they might be able to fulfill the criteria of animating everything without dragging it out by a lot and still being able to capture the core of the side story.

    Anyway, i felt that the timing of the scenes in this episode(and Argo!) made things better. Such as the sync between the last words of her letter and the last words she said when she died was pretty good. After all the LN’s Side story only showed us the letter’s words. With that background scenes while she narrated the letter, the episode was extremely touching in nature. Hopefully, some of the cut-off scenes(from Aria or RnR) might come into play later.

    Well whatever’s A-1 Picture’s intention is, we will be in a hell of a ride.

  39. After checking the first two episodes I couldn’t wait, so I ended up reading the novel .In my mind I feel that this episodes makes more sense once you’ve read the novel. It’s like a “complementary” episode.

    I really enjoyed it though, it indeed shaped the Kirito a little bit more. I also love the time skips.

  40. Uggh… internet crapped out just as I was posting. I had a slightly longer post, but I don’t feel like re-writing it, so here.

    I don’t think this series works in chronological order. The first SAO novel is a very concise, singular action-love story about Kirito and Asuna dealing with what’s happened to them. The second novel with the side stories is a lot of fun to read, but mostly in hindsight. It’s fun to watch Kirito, who we already know and love, be a badass in front of these lower level players.

    Despite the fun though, it adds very little to the actual plot or to the main characters themselves, and I would argue that in chronological order it will actually weaken them. Kirito in just SAO 1 is sort of a deconstruction of Shounen tropes, but in the side-stories is an invincible superhero. But it’s fun to read him being invincible because we’ve already read him being lonely, broken, and scared.

    Put it all in chronological order though and I think he’s gonna come off as WAY too shounen, basically Naruto in a black coat.

  41. Talk about items, I have seen many shit items but this just topped my chart of worse items to get. Revive someone within 10 seconds…. Most stupid item I ever come across…

    1. At least the drop rate was 100%. Imagine the drop rate being 0.0000001% like some of the damn items in MMORPGs , PLUS the mob being an extremely rare one, in this case an event boss. That would have hurt one hell of a lot worse.

    2. the thing about 10 sec is, when a person die in SAO the person who died turn into “stack of data” and then “gone forever”(time to turn between “stack of data” and “gone forever” is about 10 sec ) if you use the item in this time before “gone forever” the person will be revived, the 10 sec rule is just a way that the anime put to explain the way to use the item but is true the item can only revive someone who died almost immediately.
      sry about my bad english,english is not my main language and i never attend any classes about it.

  42. Although inevitable, I feel the anime gets too much comparison to the LN’s. That said.. I still miss the explanation for that blackcoat? What does that thing do? Stalk people?

    1. Yep, to understand this Stuff you should know the LN’s. because as a Anime Viewer you just have to much Holes and get fast confused.

      Looks like this Anmie here is for the Manga Fans. Just to see their Manga animated. As a Anime only Viewer you can fall into these Pits

  43. Overall though, I’d say Kirito is rather easy to get as a character, he’s a scoially awkward game player who would sooner not get involved in all the problems that come with other gamers. The MBC event just reinforces that and piles on regret and guilt.

    I’m guessing we’ll also get smiths story as well before getting on with the main bulk of the novel. In reality it should be easy to do well with 8 episodes. As long as we don’t get caught up in overly long battles or miscellaneous parts of the story.

  44. It should’ve been better if they don’t rush it, I mean 3 episode per side stories will be great and make this anime a 30+ episode. The built-up relationship feels too rushed that I didn’t feel anything when she die, It was just “oh she died”. The 1st episode is great I give it a 10/10, and 9/10 for 2nd episode because of Asuna and 3rd episode looks FAIL to me. Many LN reader said that episode 3 would be very sad that I need a tissue before watching it and after I watch it my reaction is “WHAT?! that’s it!? ARE U FUCKING KIDDING ME?!. Oh well, I hope the next episode would be great and will not disappoint me like this one.

  45. IMO The producers should take it nice and slowly. While it is good up to this point, one could argue that it could have been a lot better if they emphasized more on character development. This arc explains why Kirito opted to be a SOLO player, which explains more than half of his personality.

    Long story short, it was good but it could have been better.

    The Story You Don't Know
  46. What they should have done was made these short stories ovas. Anyone else agree? Standard episodes are too short to do these short stories justice, while 2 episodes would be too draggy. That said, the death of sashi had more impact than when i read it. Perhaps its because i enjoy anime more and already know the details on the stuff that wasnt explained.

    1. Animators: “We’re animating SAO!”
      Fans: “YES! Gonna be awesome!”

      Animators: “We had to cut/change a few minor things from the source material because of time/budget constraints.”
      Fans: “WTF! Noooo!! Stay true to the source material!”

      Animators: “OK, we stayed true to the source material.”
      Fans: “Eh. Not long enough.”
      Animators: “But.. there isn’t enough material from the LN Short story.”
      Fans: “Your supposed to fix it!”

      Animators: “Ok, We added some more source material.”
      Fans: “WTF is this filler crap!?”
      Animators: (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

  47. “In the original work, Kirito had a chance to stop them by speaking up but chose not to take it. This feels like one of the more important details that were cut from the episode to me.” Ahhhh, now this is starting to make sense. I had heard before that it was Kirito’s hidden beater status that got everyone killed but when I saw the episode that didn’t make sense at all. I still doubt him revealing it would have made a difference in the end but his guilt makes a lot more sense now.

  48. As an anime only viewer, I personally really enjoyed this episode. While admittedly rushed, it still carried enough emotional weight to really let me emphasize with Kirito. Kirito came to Sword Art Online as a strong and anti-social boy who preferred the game world to his real life, but the events of this episode served to finally break him.

    I’ll admit that I didn’t feel particularly close to the Black Cats, but I could feel from this episode that they were good people and close friends. And I liked Sachi from what we saw of her, and I can see why Kirito would get attached to her. But then everything goes wrong as the true horrors of Sword Art Online rear their heads. Just one little mistake and they all get slaughtered by monsters, and the leader who could’ve probably benefited the player community like Kirito said ends up killing himself. I felt for Kirito.

    I’ve seen a lot of different ideas for how this episode should’ve been used in the adaption, but whenever I wrap my head around it I still think it was used to its best effect here. It serves its purpose of putting Kirito through the ringer and showing the darker side of Sword Art Online. I don’t really believe two episodes would’ve worked considering how much story still needs to be told and in the end it’s not a story about the Black Cats but how they effect Kirito and how he acts from here on.

    And boy how I missed Klein. Always good to have him back.

  49. I haven’t read the LNs yet, but I did feel the rush. Cutting straight into Christmas after Sachi dying was the worst offender – probably the scene with the team leader should have been done straight rather than a small flashback.

    I’m pissed off at those idiotic guild members, though. Trying a higher floor you’ve never been in before without your team leader? A treasure chest in a hidden room? That’s obviously a trap, damnit! You’d think they would be a lot more cautious with the danger of actual death on the table.

    1. Oh, I quite agree. I feel they should have actually started the episode at Christmas with Kirito and Argo’s conversation, then flashback to the events with the guild. That way, when they jump forward back to Christmas in Act 3, it wouldn’t have felt so disjoint.

  50. The rush is kind of excusable though. I dunno if this has already been mentioned, but the author had a limit of 120 pages to write the novel in, thanks to the competition. Lots of stuff happens a lot faster than it ought to, because of that.

    And I got the complete lack of emotional impact from the LN too :sigh:

    1. actually, it was due to the page limitation that SAO was never submitted to that competition. Also, RNR was not part of the original novel, rather it’s a side story that was written later, and was collected with a few other side stories in volume 2 of the novels.

  51. I really think they could have done a better job at anime SAO just like Accel world, which is follow the novel almost 90% and not jump, rush, cut out the storyline here and there.
    I also believe they should just follow the way how the novel storyline is laid out and make episode 2 and this episode as a flashback, in the novel there is a chapter where he talk about why he always wanna play solo and then he start explaining it, I really think if they put this episode as the flashback during that time it would really play out alot better even if it is rush like now. Because at this moment right now most viewer are still new to the story and they just don’t have that emotional attactment to its character yet, these things take time to build up and for this Sachi Arc to appear right away, we just don’t get that sad emotional feeling that we should have if we actual follow the main storyline and seen thru what Kirito been thru.
    I just don’t undertand how they can do such a good job with Accel world but mess up here with SAO when clearly SAO actually have a better potential to be an epic anime.

    1. yet another Accel World troll.

      Look, if you like the Cartman spin-off show so much, why don’t gloat it all you want in Accel World posts instead of coming here and complaining about this show, telling others how awesome Accel World is? I am tired of these AW trolls hanging around SAO posts!!

    1. Ohh… I didn’t realize it as well. Wow, That actually explains it eh.. He was looking for security and comfort just like Sacchi did, and wanted acted like her. Wow.
      And here I thought he was being the kid that he was. >.>

  52. I feel like these stories should have been released in OVA form… or at least a flashback mid-series. More of a “This is me, and this is how I got here” instead of the current form which is “This is my journey”. Part of Kiritos allure as a character was his mystique throughout the LN. Why is he so jaded? Why does he hate the term beater? Why does he feel he doesn’t deserve companionship? What happened to this poor child to make him this way?! These questions kept me reading, wanting more and more. If you’re watching, it would have the same affect. Some mystery is always nice… having all the answers hand fed to you up front can get rather dull. Not to bash on this approach, it works fine, and if you view this show like you should view ANY adaptation -An alternate form of entertainment separate of the story you have read- it’s relatively good.

    That said, there is a major issue I have, specifically with this episode:

    Context and Pacing.

    Am I really supposed to understand Kiritos attachment to these people after just 15 minutes? The only indication of attachment is him saying “I will protect all of them” just 10 minutes in… Okay, cool. You’d be a sociopath to not want to protect and help someone you’re partnered with. But why does he feel this connection with them? Why did he join them and not Klein? Why does he feel so guilty for their death? He had no time to react and was ignored so why does he blame himself? How does this death affect me as a viewer? How am I supposed to feel as I watch these characters die? How am I supposed to understand the guilt Kirito feels?
    There is no true context here because of the pacing and it hurts the story, and viewer experience immensely.

    I feel nothing after these deaths. 2001 died before this episode aired that I have heard of/seen, and now 2006 are dead (Or is it 4000? I forget). Cool beans. Who’s next? While reading, I felt Kiritos pain… He has regretted not sticking with Klein from the very beginning (viewing himself as a coward who doesn’t deserve companionship after that) and the black cats were his saving grace. These people who he befriended on false terms to feel wanted… welcome. He was afraid of losing that human connection, afraid of losing his chance at redemption, so he withheld the truth… a truth that could have saved his companions. And for these selfish reasons, they died. Further proving his thoughts that he deserves to be alone because he is a lying, selfish coward with innocent blood on his hands.

    Fast forward now. Kirito hears rumor of a special event boss and item drop that can revive the dead. He’s training to do this alone. Knowing the potential strength of this boss, he still wants to do it alone. He plans to save the life of Sachi or die trying. If he can’t kill the boss procuring the item to save her, then he deserves to die. Alone. He wants to die regardless, but can’t die without at least attempting for closure from Sachi. He wants to hear those words cursing his existence for his despicable lie, telling him to die.
    -This is touched on somewhat but because of the pacing, I feel nothing as Kirito charges into the woods.

    He finds the boss and kills it. He hates himself even more for surviving and suddenly remembers the item… and now for the icing on the cake: Sachi can’t be revived. She died too long ago for the item to work. So he can’t get closure before dying himself and he can’t save his former companion. Life is hell. After giving Klein the item, he ends up back in his room somehow. You know the rest…

    The important developments here in this side-story:
    -A deeper look into Kiritos regret for abandoning Klein at the start
    -Black Cats of the Moon being his saving grace, but their friendship founded on a lie that snowballed
    -The death of the Black Cats because of that lie and withholding information that could have prevented it all
    -Kirito’s infinite regret and self-blame plunging him into the darkest depths of his mind (completely taking him out of the game- almost permanently through death)
    -Klein showing that he still cares for Kirito regardless of what happened at the start and believes Kirito is the key to their escape
    -Sachi telling Kirito that her death wasn’t his fault and that he should live on to see the end of this world. This being her last wish, Kirito has to honor it regardless of how much he hates himself. He has to continue on in order to redeem himself.

    We barely got a fraction of these developments in this anime adaptation… that, to me, is rather unacceptable. Some omissions are inevitable due to time constraints but this is THE story. This story is the answer to the question that was asked the entirety of the original LN. You shouldn’t skimp on it! Cut the others short or mention them in passing like you did Argo… but this one? Really?

    I Would probably rate this episode a C- It gets a general idea across but misses oh so much. So much character development that plays an important role down the road. Hell, the events in this episode pretty much define Kirito as an individual… but we never really got that feeling, did we?

    Side notes
    -Argo looks like Princess Mononoke (this was really the only comment I wanted to make, but then I actually watched the episode)

  53. So,… yeah, IMHO that was a good and strong episode. I cried there. Still feel like it.

    I dont’ read this particular SS (I tend to procrastinate with SAO SS) but I do know what supposed to be happened here. Because of that, I was filled with so much dread watching this episode form the very beginning. >< Such anticipation likely made the emotional impact of this episode stronger for me.

    I notice the pacing problem. I didn't pay attention though. I was to busy being either afraid or sad.

    Other than the pacing problem, I'd say some the combat scenes also have issues. Some feel too slow/static for an intense combat in an MMORPG.

    Even though I like this episode I really regret that they have to cut part of the treasure box scene. Not because Kirito development or whatever but simply, as a gamer, I can't help but thinking how idotic it was for the Black cats rushing into a tresure box like that! Any enough experienced RPG gamer should have thought 'TRAP' at the very moment and thought twice! Especially in a situation where they should be extra careful like that. Myself, 'MIMIC' is the first thing I thought.

    Something funny, I guess I was in the best situation to enjoy the episode the most, having read teh LN but not this SS. I know what supposed to happen and I know how important these events was to Kirito, so understood and empathized immediately but still have surprised moments in store. Plus I was to busy being snetimental to be much of a critic.

    Well, I guess I'll read the SS now.

  54. Where is Asuna? I feel like I’m being teased seeing her and Kirito in the OP, then when she finally appears she leaves!
    Nice character episode though. The deaths were not Kirito’s fault. The guy who opened the treasure chest in a hidden room is at fault. That is MMO 101, don’t open things unless you are prepared to get killed.

    1. The combined effect of your avatar and that video drove me to tears, being reminded of Kyousuke’s effort in Little Busters and SAO at the same time. I hope you’re happy.

      Random Hobo

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