「幻の復讐者」 (Maboroshi no Fukushuusha)
“The Phantom Avenger”

This week’s episode forms the conclusion of the mysterious murder case arc. To be perfectly honest, it felt a little out of character for the series, not just in the anime but also in the light novels. I would consider this dissonance far more emphasised in the anime though – the attempts to create an atmosphere of horror and mystery felt a little forced. Creating suspense and tension at the thought of death is one thing, trying to bring elements of horror and mystery to a story which isn’t really about either can be a risky move. Branching out can be good, but it’s always possible to overextend and stretch yourself too thin. Perhaps the incident would be terrifying to the participants involved (which we see it obviously is), but when logic is applied (or helpfully supplied by Kirito in this case), it’s pretty obvious that ghosts of dead players would not exist in SAO. If they did, why would Griselda be the only one? Why not the masses of other deceased so far? For that reason, it’s much harder for us – the viewers – to empathise with this fear and the sense of danger is lessened.

The observant viewer may have noticed the difference between the death particles in previous episodes and those shown during the ‘murder’ arc. Rather than actually dying, the ‘victims’ merely teleported out as their armour broke, creating a similar but not identical effect. It’s no surprise that Kirito would eventually notice this given how many people have died in front of him to date and his supposedly vast intellect. Under normal circumstances I would not have expected it to take him anywhere near so long. However, there is a law in Japan which states that no protagonist may notice anything, no matter how blatantly obvious, until they’re slapped repeatedly in the face with it (in this case, the sandwich). You could grow horns, print the word ‘EVIL’ on your forehead and break off into bursts of maniacal laughter at the end of each sentence and they would probably remain clueless.

Joking aside, this episode introduces one of the most absurd reasons for committing murder. The gist of it boils down to murdering your wife for leaving the kitchen. I do feel a little bad for Grimlock (Narita Ken) – it would be hard to see someone you love change so drastically. On the other hand, I know I wouldn’t complain to find my (hypothetical) wife becoming stronger, making her own way in the world and even surpassing me! At those times you should feel joy for them, perhaps tinged with a small amount of jealousy, but mostly joy! But no, Grimlock could only see her growth as a person in a negative light and decided to kill her to preserve his memories of how she once was and to remove any potential of a divorce. His breaking under Asuna’s… I hesitate to call it ‘questioning’ since it was only one question… words felt a little sudden to me. Asuna literally spoke a single line, suggesting that Grimlock felt only possessiveness, and apparently this was enough to completely shatter him. I feel like he would’ve built up more resilience than this over time – even if the guilt had also been piling up.

One of the things I really like about SAO is the systems. As a story built around an MMORPG, this is arguably one of the most important aspects – how various systems are introduced and explained (I also still love seeing the menus – notice that quick tease of Lisbeth in Asuna’s friend list!). In this episode, we have our first experience of the Immortal Object system, casually thrown in to catch our attention and hopefully to be built upon later. As the name suggests, immortal objects (a wall in this case) are uh… immortal, i.e. they cannot be destroyed by anything. Ever. In addition to this, we have some exposition centred on the item drop system. Item drops form the cornerstone of any good MMO – loot and gear is exceptionally important to character performance (in most cases at any rate). The majority of MMOs have a combat log, something severely lacking in SAO’s more realistic world – a log which shows damage dealt to opponents, special attacks initiated, and item drops (amongst other things). Usually, an item would go into a loot pool after which players can decide what to do with it or draw lots to randomly allocate treasure. SAO does things a little differently. Items drop to individual players without any notification to others. For the party to know that an item has dropped, the player who received the item must speak up and declare it. This is why I agree with Asuna entirely on her standpoint on who should receive rare item drops – if the system was designed to give loot to an individual player, it should be their right to keep it. There will still be drama of course, but at least you have system workings to back up your right to keep it. Alternatively, you could avoid drama entirely and follow Kirito’s path as a solo player!

tl;dr: @MoombaDS – Along with the conclusion of the murder arc, we get some insights into game systems and Asuna’s views! #SAO

Random thoughts:

  • The roof running, especially given the location design, immediately made me think of the Assassin’s Creed series!
  • Well done Kirito, you’re a little early but you basically just proposed to Asuna!
  • Hmmm, it feels like Kirito and Asuna talk about marriage an awful lot this week…
  • We also had our first proper glimpse of the PK guild ‘Laughing Coffin‘ this week! I feel bad for basically ignoring them this time around, but I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of them.
  • I actually take issue with Griselda’s appearance as a ghost. The writing itself already explained why such a thing is impossible, so why belie this? Sure the scene is supposed to be emotional or something, but why directly contradict a point you brought up previously when there are other ways to do this?

Full-length images: 06, 13, 14, 16, 19.



End Card


    1. And there is so much more to look for of Asuna and Kirito, the keystone has been put in place and we just have to sit and watch how the relationship evolves, this is going to be so good!.

    1. Grimlock didn’t actually broke apart this early in the LN. He was a smug asshole a la Noumi Seiji from AW who kept denying that he played a part in Griselda’s death until it was Yoruko who broke him apart, not literally of course

      1. Remember that they are trying to keep up the speed, so some things has to be cut. Grimlock denying his guilt, until they actuallly produced evidence had to go. I will put the more complex novel version in a spoiler if anyone wants to know what happened.
        Show Spoiler ▼

    2. After hearing Grimlock’s reason for murder and seeing how quickly be broke down, my first thought was ‘Ah, he’s insane. He probably lost his sanity a long time ago.’ The way it was portrayed here gave me in the impression he had lost his sanity before he had even killed her.

  1. I would have rather seen this arc been 3 episodes and following the events of the novel much more closely. Not only would it have fleshed out characters and story better, but the details and game mechanics are supposed to resonate with the gamer crowd.

    1. I would be more surprised if ppl doing fansubs knew how the studio would execute this arc! Certainly, they left out a lot of explanations but the name part is not as important so they just didn’t mention anything about Show Spoiler ▼

      at all.

  2. I like this arc the least because its so full of plot holes. I suppose it’s necessary to develop the character relationship between kirito and asuna. One could argue that it does not even contribute to the overall story.

    1. This arc is quite important for the future and more happened it then may be obvious. It’s not a hole just because something is left unexplained, it’s a plot hole if there is a contradiction.

  3. The last two episodes were fairly weak, but it was a pretty heavy story to cover. From the perspective of the anime, they needed it to develop Kirito and Asuna, so they maintained most of that, at the cost of the rest of the story. As something leading into the “conclusion” of Sword Art Online (the game), it did develop the characters well, covering a key point in their relationship, but… I still can’t help but feel unsatisfied by the actual episodes.

    1. Same feeling here. I personally prefer to go with the original story line because things are more serious and dark. They kinda watered down the tone with these sides stories. Well, can’t complain too much. I just hope they can finish up with these arcs sooner and start going with the main plot.

      1. This is what I’ve been saying from the beginning. There is a REASON the side-stories are side-stories and not presented in the original novel about SAO (the game), those side-stories flesh things out and spend a lot of time establishing how awesome Kirito and Asuka are, but they actually take away from the main plot progression.

        For one, showing how awesome Kirito is in the side stories actually distracts from the way Kirito sees himself in the first novel, which is that he’s afraid. He’s strong, he’s confident, and he’s good at the game, but he is very afraid to die. It also takes away from the fact that the first novel is about Kirito and Asuka’s relationship, full stop. There are next to no side characters even introduced because it’s not supposed to be about anything else, just the relationship that Kirito and Asuka develop in these very strange circumstances.

        This is one of those series, like star wars or the narnia chronicles, where IMO the publishing order should trump chronological order.

    1. Yeah you’re right, it’s pretty much the possessive: oh no my wife is becoming independent, she’s gonna divorce me when we get back to the real world!

      There are definitely those types of guys that want, and even force, their partners to be docile and submissive so as to feed the ego of the guy. Those are very sad and pathetic excuses for “men.”

    2. Killing her since in his mind, she’s changed on him: okay… psycho dude. But I can accept it as a plausible.

      Crumbling to the floor instantly just because of one zinger (it was not love, but possession~~!!) after how he boasted that they wouldn’t understand his love and ranted about it for a minute AND after advancing through so much on his master plan already: STUPID. You hear, writers? NOT realistic AT ALL. This type of stupid shit give Japanese Anime a bad rap, you know. Try to show this to other people (non-Japanese anime watchers), they will laugh at us. It’s really embarrassing.

      1. U doh, no I don’t doubt that. one would be surprised to find out how self-center a human being is capable of and how he/she can rationalize anything to fit into his/her agenda.

        What I didn’t find realistic at all was “crumbing to the floor within 3 seconds after the zinger” part. It’s the classic villain move in shounen genre in 90s and I thought it died out by now, but no~~. I was wrong.

      2. I know your disappointed and all, but in the novel, Grimlock finally breaks after some Mass Effect 2 style interrogation by Yoruko and protagonist duo before breaking down.

        Also the name of the 3 reds were Xaxa, PoH and Johnny Black.

        Suppa Tenko
  4. Well, it was kinda rushed.(Really wanted to see Grimrock actually try to defend himself.)

    At least the producers know that this arc was really for them to develop Kirito X Asuna.

    Friendlist FTW though XP.

  5. I loved Asuna in this episode. It’s just great seeing her and Kirito getting closer. Their relationship is one of the aspects about the SAO LNs which I loved and am now seeing on the screen.

    Although, just reading the LN, I think theoretically “ghosts” are still possible…

    Show Spoiler ▼

      1. Yeah that was the reason, but I’m thinking as a gamer here. I’ve played enough games where you fall into “ghost” areas due to a bug in the game system and other players can’t see you. That’s anyways, my thoughts. 🙂

      2. You’re wrong about that in a very slight way.

        Show Spoiler ▼

      3. Ah, but you forget something important now.
        Show Spoiler ▼

  6. You know, I’m with Moomba. I’m actually a big fan of SAO and I know that I’m going to get crap for this but seriously, come on. That was weak ass reason for murder. Unlike conflicts such as Man versus Nature, Man versus Man is far more complicated. This isn’t George Wilson shooting Jay Gatsby in the face for (supposedly) running over his wife Myrtle. This isn’t Macduff killing Macbeth to reclaim the kingdom and realign justice. And this certainly isn’t Edmond Dantes trying to kill Morcef for framing him and locking him up in prison.

    This is a guy who killed his wife for changing personas. Are you kidding me?

    Murder is complex. Hell, Man vs Man conflict in general is complicated. It’s not like Jaws, where a shark can just chomp up people because he’s a sweet ol’ shark (and admittedly, an unequivocal badass and possibly one of the greatest villains of all time). You need a real motive for murder, not this. If you want to use psychosis and mental instability, which I usually see as a lame cop-out reason (in storytelling), as an excuse for this guy, well, fire away because that’s the only explanation I’ll take.

    On a more positive note, I’m actually very happy that they’re using these earlier episodes for some very good world building. It’s not like Accel World, where different rules pop out of nowhere for convenience of the plot. It’s addressing a ton of important contradictions before we can even complain about them, such as player killing, pets, or revival items. It does this extremely well too and it hardly feels thrown at your face. The only thing which I really feel the need to elaborate on is how the players are staying alive in the real world, to which I’m assuming is life support. If anything, that’s at least one thing positive which I’m taking away from this short arc.

    1. While I agree with you that his reason is lame or weak, it really doesn’t come as a shock to me that someone will resort to murder for whatever reason anymore. I have read and heard of different cases of murder and the reasons they give never cease to amuse me at how trivial/nonsensical they end up being.

      1. Depends. When it comes to an entertainment medium like manga, anime, or a novel, having a petty reason for murder is usually a bad idea since it’s typically not very interesting and hard for the audience to identify with. Having an audience sympathize with a murderer is already hard enough and giving him petty motives doesn’t help. There’s really only one good example I could come up with that’s mildly entertaining, and that’s Hot Fuzz, where it was used for comedic effect (to great success I might add). Just because it can happen in real life, doesn’t mean it’s entertaining or empathetic.

        My take on all of this is that Kawahara Reki sidelined Grimlock’s original “make it rain” motive to give some insight into Asuna’s character and her views on love, which will probably come into motion later in the series. Now there a couple problems with this. First off, utilizing a side character to give main character(the deuteragonist, Asuna, in this case) some depth can be achieved without trivializing the conflict or dehumanizing the characters. Secondly, good atmosphere is almost necessary, and here it was completely off. As Moomba wrote in his post, it felt forced and if you’re going for psychotic, at least try to match the mood. But here we have Asuna breaking a man down after a single question and the rest of players riding off into the sunset like the Lone Ranger, courtesy of the director.

        Finally, I’m not sold on Kawahara’s ability to make decent characters, something which I’m brutally learning in Accel World, where I just hate everyone except for Kuroyukihime (she’s great). Here he’s made an interesting believable world with paper cut out villains and side characters. Kirito’s concept is interesting (an escapist suddenly becoming a realist in a world what’s real and what’s not has come into question), but he’s but only one of three characters who I find truly fascinating.

        Well, those went on long enough I guess. Sorry mate, anime blogging habit.

    2. Is sad but most men would feel bad if their wife achieve more than them, good example is a wife earn more money than the guy. Than the stress will keep building up sooner or later murder or whatever does happen. I think now a days things are more relax but can u imagine back in the old days even just maybe 50 yrs ago, a women earn more money than a guy the craziness of what gonna happen.

    3. Even if the reason of this murder is absurd, we do see it enough in real life.

      I’ve seen man divorce his wife for wanting to get a higher education, man rejecting a woman because she has a master’s degree, and won’t stay in the kitchen.

      I even know someone whose home village neighbour tried to purchase a wife (kidnapped woman), and raged when my friend’s aunt reported him to the police.

      Back to the episode. The only part I really enjoyed was the roof run. Asuna is cute. But the story’s delivery felt flat and rushed. Oh well, onwards to next week.

      1. On a business standpoint, animating the infamous 16.5 for the BD will net you a lot of people. Imagine if they announce it as a BD special, it will attract people with either desire or disgust about it, thus making a huge hype and increasing possible buyer.

        Well not actually animating the “actual scene” but the explanation for the so called
        «Ethic Code» will be very funny to watch. XD

  7. Overall this arc was pretty weak, lots of crucial details were left out from the LN, BUT the only thing I really wanted out of this were the interactions between Kirito and Asuna <3, and maybe Laughing Coffin's appearance.

  8. I think the thing that really made it a bit more twisted and put a little more impact was how they were actually husband and wife in the real world too, not JUST in the game.

    And while I do agree that it felt a little “weak” in motivation, as mentioned, people do commit murder for pretty trivial reasons in real life too. The main difference here is that, as Grimlock said, he had no “law” or legal system to fear in SAO like he would if it were to kill his wife in real life.

    1. It actually happens in the novel sidestory, so most likely. But probobly the episode after the next one. I guess they could skip that part or even just leave out the showing bit and just have him say that he will show her.

      1. Ah, but ‘her’ in this case wasn’t Asuna.
        Show Spoiler ▼

  9. I also still love seeing the menus – notice that quick tease of Lisbeth in Asuna’s friend list!

    Actually, All of them are quick teases. Though some of them are only mentioned in the background.

    Show Spoiler ▼

  10. There are some fundamental plot holes in the adaptation of this arc.

    One of the things that bugged me the most was how the “dead” people weren’t dead. Note that until Asuna checked her friends list and found out how one of the victims wasn’t actually dead, since she had a location icon and all that. Remember back in episode 1, how dead players’ names are crossed out on the giant wall of doom? Simply double-checking your facts would’ve resolved this situation LAST episode, where they could just look up the “dead” man’s name on the wall. Not crossed out? Not dead.

    The other things that annoyed me was Griselda’s ghost, but I feel that horse has already been flogged enough.

    1. Well in the novel, they did check the wall after the first guy died. But they were told by the girl the name was spelled “Kains”, instead of the real spelling “Cayns”, which coincidentally did die at that exact time from DoT damage LAST year.

      1. This isn’t a plot hole. This is the same baseless complaint as “why didn’t Frodo ride the Griffin into Mordor?” Can you please learn the meaning of the word before you use it?

  11. 2/3 of this episode: very very good. Enjoyable.

    1/3 towards the end: total shounen horseshit. It’s so weak. The bad guy says “I killed my wife since she changed on me!, you will never understand~~! oh ha ha ha!” The hero dude says “no, that’s not love, that’s possession.” “The bad guy ALL OF SUDDEN loses his will to live by this one zinger and crumbles to the floor with ‘all hope is lost look in his face.’ This happens within 3 seconds, people!!! What a way to ruin the highly entertaining episode. Well done, sirs from the studio!! They were NOT even trying on this resolution.

    Are you ALL blind? How come you all can accept this mediocrity from this supposed to be a great show! If you have zero problem with this, then you sir/ma’am are a sucker for this kindergarden-level intelligence development. Seriously it really ticks me off the wrong way for them to pull this on us, it’s as if they are mocking our intelligence. Even shounen standard, this is really low.

    1. I agree that in the anime he cracked a bit too fast, in the novel the guy denied it with a very good alibi, only after said alibi was unraveled was when he gave up started fessing up to the deed. I can sort of understand why they had to cut it short, because if they didn’t they would need to explain the mechanics behind that preserving box and that items drop from PK’ed players; and I don’t think a third episode of this arc would be ideal.

      IMO I hated this arc in the novels, no idea why. It just felt very out of place to me.

    2. Really? People? I can already see negs pilling up on my post. Giving me negs for telling you the obvious? How can anyone like this weak-ass resolution is beyond me. Nadi’s response is fair, I can accept that. But that dosen’t change the fact that this episode totally bombed in the end. It’s a cautionary tale of how A anime episode turn into C territory.

      And I didn’t say it in the post, but to top of all, they ended it with the ultimate cheesy move of “smiling ghost silently thanking our heros”. It’s a utter disgrace!! I kid you not, I bet they are more people who didn’t like this ending than those who liked (but then again, you never know with this crowd, LOL!). If I get negs for writing this, so be it. After all, this board is dominated by throngs of posters who can’t take ANY criticism of their favorite show and will rain down negs with collective head shakes, no matter how valid the objection is. I might have been very harsh with my trashing, but that’s only because I expected much better things from this show than this insult-to-our-intelligence-move they just pulled. AND it’s very specific trashing on the plot. I have no reason to trash the show as I watch it.

      1. I disliked the ghost scene as well. I feel they should have taken that out completely even though it was in the novel, but here is where the animators can’t win; Do the they leave it in because it was in the novel, even though imo it felt really weird and really out of place. Or do they axe that scene entirely, and draw the ire of the light novel community for cutting something out from the source material (even though that scene is so out of place and cheesy and serves NO purpose whatsoever IMO.) Your gonna disappoint people regardless, might as well have a scapegoat and say, “Well, it was in the novel.”

        Even Kawahara himself stated that out of all the things he wrote about SAO, this side story was his weakest and wasn’t particularly happy about it.

      2. The problem with your post, I suspect, is not about the content but the presentation. Let’s just say it plain: you sound like an ass. Even if you are correct (let’s set that issue aside for now)it doesn’t matter if your presentation is bad. People aren’t going to be convinced by being insulted or patronised. Instead they will take offence and will not be receptive to your argument. You might as well use a one-line zinger.

        As it is, you’re making no attempt, really, to reason or convince. No, you just want to get out there and say that you’re right and others are wrong. I understand that it’s hard to resist to tell people on the internet that they’re wrong, but are you really trying to change their minds by being rude and arrogant? If you’re not, then your post is simply for self-satisfaction.

    3. Need to start accepting negs as a sign of doing something right. This series really has been weak so far. There’s some interesting aspects, but on the whole, it’s meh. My favorite part of this series has to be the fact they’re simply inside a virtual world, and all the system images and menus.

      The interpersonal interactions have bee-zzzz … *buah!?* where was I? .hack//SIGN thrived on the social interactions. Natsuyuki Rendezvous and Kokoro Connect are thriving on their characters and their relationships. This series is shiny, but it isn’t something I’d prop up as best of season. (here’s hoping the rest of the show can change my opinion~)

      To anyone who states, “Go read the LN.” I should be able to enjoy a presentation in one medium without relying on another.

    1. My main issue with the adaptation is they leave to much to the LN. Many of the issues are succinctly handled by the LN, but instead they choose to ignore them.

      Ghost = Alicization
      Name Check = Monument of Life
      PVP in town impossible = heathcliffe telling them (also meeting heathcliffe before the duel)
      Red Eye Xaxa comment = GGOnline
      Husband defending himself = Girl not so useless after all

      1. Not to mention how Schmidt got his tank gear. How Grimlock didn’t spend a single coin, not counting the half he gave to Schmidt, that he got for selling Griselda’s inventory. Why they chose that particular area as a grave for Griselda. The wedding ring that Yoruko kept in a special box so the ring’s durability didn’t decrease overtime.

        Note: I didn’t put a spoiler tag here because, quite frankly, if you haven’t read the LN up to this point in the anime, you’re likely not going to read it anytime soon.

  12. Regards the last episode, in the light novels they DID check the wall – the thing is, there WAS a guy who died from piercing damage, named Kains. The guy who stabbed himself and then teleported, however, was Cayns – same pronounciation, different spelling, and Yoko made sure to point them to Kains instead of Cayns. The subs follow the name Kains because that’s the trick the light novels used.

    And to be fair, the author admits that this really wasn’t one of the stronger stories he wrote. :p

    Ironically, if we follow light novel progression, SAO has the same issue as Accel World – as plot happens, so does the world building, particularly as the LNs aren’t in chronological order. By animating the story chronologically, the worldbuilding feels smoother.

    Wild Goose
  13. I actually like this ep a bit more than other side stories episodes, not sure why
    But, that reasoning is sooo bad and I feel some points were left out
    I really liked the screentime Asuna and Kirito got though
    They’re so perfect together
    Overall very good ep

    1. Stuff like Xaxa’s parting words and Heathcliff eating fake-ramen with Kirito are only Easter Eggs because the LN reader knows what’s gonna happen from then on. Since the anime is following chronological order, those scenes have too much potential to spoil the rest of the audience.

    1. He’s not supposed to go SEED mode for this kind of things at all, at least in the LN. He was helped by none other than Show Spoiler ▼

      1. Well, Kirito is fairly inteligent and observant, so it’s not like it’s out of character for him to solve a mystery. It’s just that with the difference of an anime and a novel so wont we see what is going on in his head that often.

  14. I hope they add some original material. I always felt the SAO world flew by too fast. The material afterwards felt really clumsy with ALO onwards, so I hope they end it with the conclusion of SAO perhaps with a slightly alternate end. This side story didn’t really fit well with the whole feel of the SAO story in the LN either.

    I guess the other issue is that there are a lot of inconsistencies in the story. According to the first volume, Kirito and Asuna supposedly developed with the first meaningful encounter with Kirito and Asuna resting together under the tree in the previous episode. Later side stories had them being friends from the beginning.

    1. No. First off they are ending it the same way as Show Spoiler ▼

      . Secondly, the first volume established they were already friends after certain events. Seeing as how side stories basically flesh out that relationship it would make sense.

      They were not friends from the beginning. In Aria, it’s basically what teaches Asuna not to go Solo/suicidal and eventually join up with KOTB. They don’t actually become friends till much later and their relationship only really becomes deeper after the Show Spoiler ▼

      . Before that you get him getting a recommendation for both Asuna’s Tailor and Blacksmith which leads to Show Spoiler ▼

      . The Sidestories never retconn them into being friends in the early floors. They are just acquantinces that met during Aria. The SS do a good job of building a relationship up whereas in Volume 1 we are left to wonder how they suddenly became such good friends.

      Also, GGO is handled decently and introduces the primary antagonist for the remaining stories insofar.

      Alicization is basically SAO over 5 volumes with alot of precursor talk to AW.

      1. Actually this episode is rather more important then obvious when it comes to Asuna. The problem is just that we get a lot less details fed us in the anime then the book so it’s not as obvious. But I think it should be obvious that Asuna has a better relationship with Kirito at the end of this episode then she had at the start of the previous one.
        Show Spoiler ▼

      2. there are more side stories other than aria and vol 2 Show Spoiler ▼

      3. Show Spoiler ▼

    1. Er…I think it is simply foreshadowing not lampshading.

      Also, there is a discontinuity in the timeline of this story at least in the LN. I’ll spoiler this in case people still want to read the LN.
      Show Spoiler ▼

      1. Not true!
        Show Spoiler ▼

    2. Wait, I didn’t know that! Is it in Volume 2? >:)

      And thanks for the correction.

      And yeah. Seems like there had been changes in the story too:
      Show Spoiler ▼

      I guess it can’t be helped: You need to read a lot of the LN to make LN-based anime more understandable since they will never be able to fit the whole story in such a small timespan.

      The Moondoggie
  15. A very enjoyable episode of Sword Art Online.

    The mystery served its purpose well, and I was honestly surprised by a few of the revelations. I saw Yoruko and Kains being alive, but Grimlock being behind it all didn’t register with me at all. That, and that he and Griselda actually were married in the real world.

    I won’t deny that Grimlock’s motive for killing Griselda was stupid, but in all honesty I’ve seen this type of stupidity before. Husbands can be very controlling of their wives, expecting them to fit some ideal of the perfect wife who doesn’t outshine the husband. Humans as a whole usually kill for stupid and selfish reasons. Some do it just for fun, like those in the Laughing Coffin guild, or out of some misguided belief like Grimlock. In the end, it highlights how Sword Art Online brings out both the best and the worst of the players.

    On Asuna’s comment… well, I guess it was in there just to give Asuna something heroic to do in the end. And on the whole I’m fine with it, Grimlock was in a bad state of mind and I think Asuna’s words were enough to finally get him to really reflect on his actions. The truth he had probably known all along was finally said to his face and he just gave up. Not calling it perfect by any means, but for what it was I don’t think it was terrible.

    As for Griselda’s ghost… I think that was there as a sort of bookend to the philosophical conversation of last episode, as to whether Sword Art Online is more than just a game and a reality all of its own. That there’s something deeper in Sword Art Online than just the pixels and textures, something that Kirito in his own way sees and is trying to show Asuna. That, and scenes like that are a dime a dozen in these types of stories. You know, the ghost showing up after the capture of the criminal who had gotten off scott free for quite some time and disappearing after the character looks away and back again. A little cliche I guess, but I thought it worked well in the context of the episode.

    But the real treat of this episode were the interactions between Asuna and Kirito. From a minor mirror of their scene from episode 2 but with better food, to Asuna’s romantic musings on the marriage system while Kirito continues being his usual awkward self, there was a lot to like. All in all, this arc was a great starting point for their relationship, and I look forward to seeing it develop. And that segway into the ending theme was icing on the cake.

  16. Why do I hv a feeling tht this ep rushed and its quite obvious this time around?

    As many stated, Grimrock reason WAS weak but its still possible IRL. There are many cases tht leave me dumbfounded as to why ppl does things. Abt the breaking down with one word though….. And well, at least Kirito and Asuna wouldn’t need to bother w/h cleaning up if anything happens to Grimrock LOL XD

    Abt Griselda ghost, can we just leave it as “atmosphere suitable and plot related” or Supernatural did it? Or similar to the case of Fate/Extra Show Spoiler ▼


    And boy was it foreshadowing something with all the talk abt marriages XD And Asuna, Kirito was looking for friends too!! Girlfriends tht is. Show Spoiler ▼

    Welll I won’t complain I personally is oky with all the ship teasing. Plus we will get more of it as the main arc arrive.

    Nice end card.

  17. Sad to say, but I found this to be the weakest arc by far. To be blunt, the writer doesn’t have the chops to make a decent mystery. It started out interesting but it immediately fell apart at the end with all the contrivance and stupid. Grimlocks’ reveal as the culprit was poorly executed, since Kirito somehow just formulates a revelation based on a completely out of context conversation and just happens to be right. The worse part is that Kirito and Asuna had no reason to be in this arc, they were just manipulated by others and this whole thing mostly blows over without their help. In the end it all feels pointless and just seemed to be a backdrop for Kirito and Asuna to be closer.

    I really do think SAO has an interesting story and setting. But the focus on short stories is really starting to affect the overall pacing of the show. To quote Monty Python: GET ON WITH IT!!!

  18. I am really enjoying this series, despite the sheer lack of Kirito fighting. Think about it, the last time he actually was in a battle (that we could watch) was in like episode 2. I don’t count the PK guild episode.

    I know it is not an action driven anime. As such, the world building here is top notch, without being too cumbersome.

  19. It showed Godfree as well in her friend list too! Nice foreshadowing. I was never a big fan of this side story and remember reading/skimming through it. It does do a cute job of showing Asuna’s crush on Kirito developing though. The dinner tsundere antics were cute.
    I hope they do a Laughing Coffin episode. It would be a good fighting scene episode, character and story depth.
    Next week looks to be Lisbeth’s story. Which means no Asuna(seriously? We finally got her back!), but at least it is character progression on Kirito’s part.

  20. There’s also a little nod to Godfree in Asuna’s friend’s list, but he’s not as important as Lisbeth.

    Regarding the ghost
    Show Spoiler ▼

  21. well, the end of this episode was oozing with cheese…
    but then it lacked a lot more than what I had expected, even when I crossed out the hopes of seeing an alternate outfit for Asuna…
    LN-spoiler:Show Spoiler ▼

    Still, all those extra stuff cannot be denied:
    -Xaxa getting a voice (I’m sure that was him with the red eyes), guess we’re not getting Johnny Black this season.
    -the ragout rabbit’s appearance
    -the immortal object sign(like everyone else have said)

  22. My opinion on this episode:

    Pretty lame on a lot of occasions.

    As a member of the holy dragon alliance and a top level player, you’d think Schmidt wouldn’t be such a gullible weenie. Since when does one see grown ass men acting like this!?

    Asuna just happens to want to talk about in-game marriage and lo’ and behold…this conversation topic leads to the solution of the mystery! What an obviously forced plot device ._. (unless i misremember and there was a good reason for bringing up marriage)

    The ending with that lady’s ghost appearing and the sunlight and the happy anime music and the gushy feeling of the beginning of a deeper relationship between Asuna and Kirito…. GAWD, LAME LAME LAME LAME PUKE PUKE..EAT MORE FOOD AND PUKE SOME MORE! I’m over-exaggerating perhaps, but they really wanted to wrap a giant bow on this episode, didn’t they? It feels as though we’re looking through a rose-colored glass.

    I actually liked the first 3 episodes the most. These past 3 episodes seem less real or maybe more immature. What i mean is, when i watch them, i instinctively feel that at times (not all the time), the episodes completely dip into the waters of mediocrity. The kirito and asuna interactions are just standard anime fare. I’m having trouble feeling anything for them.

    However, on the whole, I love the sword art world and will anxiously await each new episode!

  23. That was the most boring episode so far.
    They could have done this murder arc in one episode, like with Silica and Sachi, or ignore it completely, and this time it even felt unuseful to the story.

    And though I like it that the next episode is about Liz, I want them to get back to the story. They showed more content from other volumes instead of vol.1 for too long, and it started to be a lot more confusing than entertaining.

  24. As much as I deplore Grimlock’s “motives”, they are all too common amongst real life wife abusers and killers… It is when their perceived plaything starts to get independent that they become insecure and aggressive.
    Marriage talk between Asuna and Kirito… shipping flags ahoy!

  25. I found this episode to be dumb.
    This is all I got from this episode.

    Grimlock: I killed my wife!
    Kirito: You killed your game wife!
    Grimlock: I killed my real wife!
    Grimlock: I… I killed my wife??

  26. There was a line in the LN where Kirito unintendedly proposed to Asuna. It was during their talk of shared inventories and kirito was like

    “next time we party i’ll definitely not hide anything from you”


  27. I think people are giving Grimlock too much credit here. I mean, you’re all making him out to be some kind of coldhearted badass killer! “He killed his wife because she was no longer what he liked!” That, to me, sounds like, “I killed a man just so I can watch him die!”

    Seriously, you guys are definitely over estimating the moron’s ability gauge.

    Taking from what I know about the light novel and what the anime has chose to show, Grimlock was a weak minded person to begin with. The couple probably joined SAO as a couple to do ‘couple things.’ However, all shit went to hell and they were stuck in a death game. Grimlock, is was probably barely able to cope with even the smallest stress in RL, likely felt utterly crushed by the stress of dying in SAO.

    Grimlock wanted to play it safe. Stay in the towns. He was afraid to do anything that would cause his own death. However, Griselda was different. Griselda wanted to get out of the game! Ironically, so she can continue her relationship with Grimlock in the real world. Griselda left the town, with Grimlock in tow, to level up and form the Guild.

    During all that, Grimlock only became more and more afraid of the world. Add on, the loser realized that his wife was taking on the role Grimlock felt was his – the Leader. Not only was Grimlock put under the stress of dying, he’d lost the role he’d identified as his in RL. Noticing that his wife was not the women he thought, all consistency of his former, safe, and comfortable life was practically gone.

    Grimlock was under the constant threat of death. His role as the leader in his personal relationship had switched (in his mind). The one thing in his life that Grimlock felt he had control over, his relationship with his wife, was starting to crack and crumble. Grimlock was desperate for any semblance of his old life. Grimlock didn’t want to grind outside of the towns. Grimlock didn’t want to be in a Guild. And, worst of all to him, Grimlock didn’t want his wife to see how weak and afraid he was!

    Desiring to bring back any source of control in his life, Grimlock thought that if he got rid of the source of his stress, Griselda, his life would return back to normal.

    Grimlock killed his wife in a desperate move to make him feel like a man again. He didn’t kill her just because he saw her in a different light and found out he didn’t like it. Lets not paint this coward as some psychopathic murderer. He’s just some loser who couldn’t take the stress of life and opted to lash out.

  28. The “Griselda’s Ghost” appearing at the end could just be part of the game. Such as gravestone items projecting an image of the deceased at certain times. Alternatively the creator of the game (if not already arrested in real life) could be watching the events and took personal interest in Kirito and Co. and decided to project an image of her.

  29. Never thought that going chronologically (that is, the adaptation of side stories before the main story) would be this long and this boring. I bet the writers just decided to do this arc for the SAO world and KiritoxAsuna relationship building (those 2 are the only things I enjoyed this episode).

    Still 2 episodes before the main plot! =_______=

  30. A. The biggest appeal of Sword Art Online is the romance between Asuna and Kirito. However the impact is diminished by X-folds due to the anime using a semi chronological order and deciding to insert the side stories first from later volumes. This is already episode 6? and their relationship barely has developed, which makes what I’m saying a spoiler.

    B. The second biggest appeal is Kirito, but it is also diminished do to the anime focusing on the side stories first, which is told from the viewpoint of the side characters, making Kirito’s development weak and borderline schezophrinic.

    The third biggest appeal is the various time jumps in the first story that really makes Sword Art Online a unique read and also allows the author to strengthen points A&B in the span of only one, albeit long light novel.

    This isn’t about pacing, plot holes, or removed material. It isn’t about superiority or inferiority. Animes don’t “compete” with source materials, it is supposed to capture and enhance the essence of the source, but in this case it has failed to capture, let alone enhance the source.

    If you’re an anime only viewer and find the anime lacking…I implore you, read the light novel translations. If you’re an anime only viewer and find the anime good… forget about this post. And finally, if you’re a LN viewer…well such is life.

  31. A late but interesting observation I discovered when watching SAO 04 again. There was an orange player using “dual axes” skill trying to PK Kirito from Titan’s Hand group. What the heck! That wasn’t a normal weapon skill to be acquired easily. Was that an intended mistake by the animators? Did anyone else notice it while watching SAO 04? :p

    1. It was discussed a lot when it showed up. But it was done in spoilers as anime viewers will have no idea about this deatail. But yes, it’s most likely a mistake made by some animator. Most likely so was the detail of the thugs look just left for some random people do deal with and not much thought given to it.

    2. (Repeat from before) I think the main difference is dual blades the skill is different than allowing dual wielding with basic skills.

      Show Spoiler ▼

  32. Show Spoiler ▼

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