「世界の終焉」 (Sekai no Shuuen)
“The End of the World”

Here ends the first major arc of Sword Art Online. I have to say, in fairness to A-1, they handled this episode pretty well. Most of its faults can almost entirely be attributed to the source material. It was certainly a flashy episode, with the final duel between Heathcliff and Kirito topping the rest of the series in terms of animation and style, and it had moments that some might consider touching or emotional. We even had the reveal of one of the few true twists in SAO – Heathcliff’s true identity. As most realised at the time, there was something fishy during his duel with Kirito, and now we know why. It also might help to explain Kirito’s generally poor disposition towards Heathcliff all this time – perhaps a base instinct warning him not to put too much trust into the game’s number one player.

Perhaps falling back to regroup would have been the wiser choice, but Kirito could not allow the chance to set everyone free pass by. After all, given the high casualty rate in the previous boss battle (fourteen dead), the continually dwindling number of clearers, the mounting difficulty, and the fact that they’re only three quarters of the way through the game with almost four thousand dead, what other chance do they actually have? At this rate, the force that would face off against Kayaba Akihiko on the final floor would be rather pitiful. No, in reality, this was their final chance. Kirito took it, and somehow won.

Forgive me for this because it’s not entirely directed at Sword Art Online, but also at a lot of fiction in general. When you strive for realism, it becomes vastly more obvious when something falls outside of what’s feasible. Kawahara Reki falls into this trap quite frequently, sacrificing the attempts at realistic portrayal he’s built up so far in order to execute something with a storybook romantic effect. Overcoming obstacles with belief alone, shattering galaxies with other galaxies… all this is fine… as long as you haven’t spent all your time up to this point trying to build a believable world. Apparently Asuna could recover from a game status effect through belief alone and Kirito was able to soldier on and defeat Kayaba Akihiko despite already being dead. Let’s not forget the fact that Kirito doesn’t actually die in the end anyway, completely revoking any effect created by the scene immediately following his and Asuna’s demise… not that there was ever any real worry – we still have a whole second cour to go! Okay, so there’s the ‘ten minute rule’ that was later established in a side-story, but – retroactively justifying things aside – Kirito certainly didn’t seem to think they were going to survive either. Sure, these things all make a sort of nice story, but with the previous emphasis on realism? The fact that the other four thousand are actually dead?

They say an exception proves the rule (which, to be fair, under its current misuse to justify exceptions to rules in fiction is complete bullshit). But more to the point, when do you arrive at a place where you have so many ‘exceptions’ that the rule itself is brought into question? If almost all the people who matter to the story fall under these exceptions, what’s the point of the rule in the first place? When you declare something a rule, you should apply it to all entities. There should be no special exemption for your favourite characters. Just take a look at George R. R. Martin. When you read through his works, you do so with apprehension. There’s a true sense of danger – you believe that things could go horribly wrong. Of course, main characters don’t have to die for a story to be believable – heck, they wouldn’t really be the main characters if they didn’t survive through to the end of the story. But that certainly doesn’t justify the use of deus ex machina to save them.

To move away from my personal dissatisfactions with certain works of fiction, let’s talk about Kayaba Akihiko’s motivations. He chose to play as Heathcliff because ‘there’s nothing as boring as watching someone else play an RPG.’ Oh the irony of this statement! It’s true to an extent. Watching people play an MMORPG for two solid years without taking part would be nightmarishly boring. If you’ve ever watched a ‘Let’s Play’ video, imagine one of those but for two solid years, with less charismatic individuals, and almost nothing but repetitive grinding. Appealing? I didn’t think so. As to his motivations for trapping everyone in a death game? Those are a little harder to grasp and if I tried to claim I could understand and empathise with them I imagine I’d be branded a psychopath. If I had to guess at this point, I’d say that he wanted people to truly live in the world he created, for it to be more than just a game. Or there could’ve been absolutely no reason at all and he was just crazy. Your choice!

Maybe I’ve come across as being a little harsh on this episode – it was relatively effectively carried out and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it at all. I just found myself sighing a little more often that I probably should’ve been… and for the wrong reasons. At least next week we’ll finally be moving beyond the Sword Art Online game (with a new OP and ED to boot)!

tl;dr: @MoombaDS – This week brings battles, tears, deaths, and some Kawahara Reki style funny business. #SAO

Random thoughts:

  • There were actually quite a few fantasy genre clichés that came into play this episode. For example, Heathcliff training people specifically so that they would one day defeat him… sound familiar?
  • This scenario is quite familiar too. How many times have we seen this kind of thing in the lead up to the ‘final battle?’ Although usually the person being set down would be dead.
  • Oh dear… that Engrish is slightly… haha whoops!
  • It’s nice to see that they actually made Kirito decrepit in the real world – he has been in a coma for two whole years after all!

Full-length images: 13.



End Card


    1. My only complaint was that Kirito’s death was animated in a confusing way. It should have more monologue and none of that splattering into polygons and reforming. In the novels Kirito stabbed Heathcliff right before his avatar exploded instead of afterwards.

      Suppa Tenko
    2. Personally, they should have removed the OP and ED themes for this episode. Especially the ED since it would have given a better emotional impact when they showed Kirito waking up and calling out for Asuna. That would be one scene whereby no BGM or INS song being added in would make it even more powerful. Just have Kirito waking up, calling out for Asuna, then cutting to episode preview. That way they can dedicate the time used for the ED at least to further animate or explain certain scenes.

      The scene at the end when Kirito and Asuna revealed to each other their real names was alot more powerful than i thought… Gotta give major props to Matsuoka Yoshitsugu and Tomatsu Haruka for being able to voice that scene with with so much emotion.

  1. Well, well, this was a-okay. If anybody paid attention to my posts on SAO, you know how much I trashed this show in the past few weeks for the stupid shit they put out. But this episode was fine by me. There are a few cliché here and there, but that’s nothing -besides every show, good or bad, will have a few cliché.

    Now then, this feels a bit abrupt end though and always feels like 2nd to last episode. But since it’s only episode 14, I am aware that it’s not even close to be done. I know nothing about this show’s source materials, but my guess is that either a) there’s another SAO world that was not deleted or b) the SAO world was deleted… but just kidding! It wasn’t! gotcha! And our hero will obviously go back to the virtual world to save someone (I dunno, like 4000 people who died and lost their minds). Since this is Shounen show, that makes sense. I am only taking a stab in the dark here, so it’s not a spoiler.

    1. At least you now understand why it was so disjointed. Imagine if this was EP8 and we now went through 6 episodes of side stories that we missed and girl-of-the-week action?

      The anime is good but that faithfulness has brought it down to a 8/10 at it’s best.

      This is the end of SAO Vol 1, a pretty good fan-fiction written by a high-schooler that got insanely popular on the internet. 8 years later it was published almost untouched, even if the author knew it a huge amount of problems. It was the first novel he ever wrote after all. I’m finished with Vol 5, the author is still introducing themes that SAO Vol 1 did not touch. Like the psychological effects of murdering someone.

      So yeah, SAO was a narrative mess and Vol 2, Vol 8, and other LNs were written as a way to “patch” the voids of the original story.

      PD: IIRC the author had plans to rewrite all the SAO arc in chronological order and with none of the major problems it had.

      1. That would be correct, the author is currently working on writing Sword Art Online Progressive which is coming out this month. Going from floor 1-75 without skippping about. This is the authors attempt to make everything that happens in Aincrad actually make more sense and fix consitency issues.

      1. Foofiebeast, apparently SAO RC community here is still reeling from my wickedly blistering trashing on their show for the past few episodes for their mediocrity and hate me for it, ah ha ha~~! Some folks here sure do hold a grudge for verrrrry long time. I might be a marked man on RC SAO board~~!

  2. Good ending to the first arc of the series. Not great, not excellent, but good. Most can be blamed on the LN itself I believe. But still I really enjoyed it. Very emotional and it felt like an anti-climatic series finale.

    There is a ALO PV somewhere around here cause I’m seeing pictures of the ALO game in anime and some writing with scenes from the future episodes in pictures, so WHERE THE HELL IS THAT PV. I believe the new opening is also on that PV as well

      1. Well I wasn’t asking where the PV was on RC because I knew the situation, But I meant on the internet in general. I was looking everywhere but I found it last night on Youtube. Great songs! Both Innocence by Aoi Eir (Opening 2)and Overfly by Haruna Luna (Ending 2)

  3. I’m glad I know nothing about the light novels. The major plot twists come as real surprises. I have no idea about what to expect from each episode and that is a nice feeling because usually I end up getting spoiled one way or another.

    Minor quibble: I don’t think Kirito would be able to get out of bed right away and stand much well start walking. I guess the show doesn’t want an entire episode devoted to physical rehabilitation. Also if cellphones can give you cancer I wonder what a Nerve Gear strapped to your head for 2 years does for your brain…

      1. I see what you’re saying, but the difference is in how strong the signal has to be. Nervgear only has to work a couple of inches. Cellphones, up to 50 miles (depending on factors like terrain and obstacles, but still)

      2. It might not give you cancer, but it can cook popcorn… which is awesome.\, since the Nervgear can do that too, as Kayaba threatened to do if someone tried to pull the plug.

        The Moondoggie
      3. Plus according to the Japanese text, the way that the Nerve Gear is supposed to kill the player is through intense microwaves, literally cooking the brain by utilizing the large amount of power stored in a local battery inside the Nerve Gear.

        In regular operation, it’s supposed to directly tap into the nervous system and near perfectly simulate the electric signals that the body would normally send.

        In other words, to the brain, Nerve Gear presents an actual reality and the level of electricity applied during normal use is exactly the same amount of electricity as normal everyday life. Otherwise it wouldn’t “display” the world of SAO correctly.

    1. Also, why is the hospital so empty? Just a mere 10 minutes ago a good 6,000 players woke up from coma, so you’d think there’d at least be a lot of activity across the hospitals of Japan.

      1. Why is the hallway at that moment so empty? Narrative exception.

        If you want a slightly more plausible reason, if there’s 6000 players suddenly waking up, you’re going to have a whole lot of nurses being inside a room at that moment helping the poor ones that can’t stand up properly. Still, there should be way more running around, I agree about that.

      2. Forget the other patients, where are the NURSES that are suppose to be monitoring the machines!? One of them just flat-lined and NOTHING HAPPENED. Oh, my mother would have a field day in that hospital if that actually occured…

      3. Well first of all who says everyone is in the same hospital? Although i agree that when machines go beep nurses should be running! Then again, the patients are also waking up so it should be chaos which the hallway doesnt show sadly.

  4. Uploaded it the same time as me 🙂 Overall I thought this episode is decent. I feel the ending portions of the fight between Heathcliff and Kirito didn’t match up to my expectations. But I feel that the ending talk between Asuna and Kirito was well done especially by Matsuoka (Kirito’s VA). New OP and ED next week and a new arc. We’ll see how it goes.

  5. Wait, Moomba. Where was your hash tone on say, that god awful episode 12? Now this episode is not a masterpiece nor an excellent one (especially the Rintarou Okabe-kun’s half-baked explanation at the end), but this was no where as bad as recent previous episodes. I like trashing deserved shows as much as next guy, though.

  6. Note: When I say “anti-climatic” I meant the way they ended the episode with a frail Kazuto walking weakly through the hospital. Not the episode itself. I was expecting more at the ending scene but they just showed Kazuto walking for that entire 1:30 time limit as the ending song continued.

    1. The reason we see this is because this is the actual end to the first novel. If you read it, the last thing you read is Kazuto getting up from his bed, gripping the bar and heading out of his room while saying “Asuna” And although ti is not what many people would want from an ending, it left the story open for the upcoming arc.

      BTW, can’t wait for Kazuto vs Suguha.

      1. Yeah I remember that, but it still feels anti-climatic to an episode finale. Especially to the non-LN readers. They’re just there waiting for a new scene, probably of the returns of Rika Shinozaki(Lisbeth) or Keiko Ayano (Silica) with just them opening their eyes and smiling faintly knowing that Kirito was the one that ended the game. I can see that that’s some of the minds of the Non-LN readers right now.

        Its true that at the moment Asuna isn’t here but it felt alittle anti-climatic (I’m overusing this word now…) to end it on a sad type of cliffhanger. (When I say sad it kinda broke my heart to see a frail Kazuto get up calling her name quietly cause he can hardly talk 🙁 )

  7. For the “boo, is a deus ex-machina with a Gary Stu and Mary Sue” comments, think of Neo of Matrix when Smith kill him. It’s the same here, as Kirito and Asuna someway toppled the system, which helped them in defeating Kayaba and granted them the way out (apparently), even when they were supposed to be death, no questions answered. If you’re not satisfied with that, then your level of hypocresy is higher than Kayaba’s.

    1. They sorta toppled the system, but that’s not why they lived. They survived because Kayaba decided to let them live. (My guess is as a reward for clearing the game, and for showing him something interesting)

      Show Spoiler ▼

      1. Show Spoiler ▼

    2. Doesn’t surprise me, though. I don’t know if it was this or some other series, but I remember him “forgetting” to use the spoiler space in an other comments a few weeks/months ago.

  8. Color me surprised.
    When Asuna took the final blow, I thought for sure that they would bring in the ressurection stone from Rednosed Reindeer and leave our mad-scientist paladin to be the final boss another day, but nope! Resolution!
    A moment of silence for the level designer that made stages 76-100.

    Bio D
    1. That’s actually an interesting point.
      Now, an excuse could be that Klein used the res stone already, or that they can’t use the res stone for that case anyway. On the other side, noone would’ve thought of that when reading the LN because the story of the res stone came out later than the end of the SAO. Interesting observation, could only be done if you only watch the anime and not biased by the novel.

  9. There were a few things that this episode did not explicitly state, most of them internal thoughts in the light novel. I think I will clarify for those who are interested.

    When Kirito glanced at Heathcliff, he did not see a leader consoling his remaining men, but more like someone taking stock of items, distant and cold. When he decided to attack, he apologized in his mind to Asuna should he assumption be wrong and everyone turns against him.

    Also, during his final match, when Kirito was wounded, he instinctively activated his strongest sword skill. But since the Dual Blade skill was designed by Heathcliff, he knew how to perfectly counter it, as can be seen by the smirk on his face. That is also why Kirito accepted his defeat before he even landed his last blow, because he could no longer stop the combo, and when it ends he will be wide open.

    1. Heatcilff was a lot stronger of what he seem, the scene between the was well done but you are right something will alaways be lost when you adapt a novel. Even so Kayaba never took into consideration the evolution of the game he created (yui for example) and that was his doom, when something gets life it changes and adapts withot control, controling a world is impossible specially a world filled with humans.

    2. Also the final dialogue with Akihito was missing a part. I’m not sure if it was Kirito’s imagination or Kayaba’s monologue but someone mentioned the dream of a young swordsman who travels through floating castle, meets the girl that he loves and finally conquers the castle.

      Suppa Tenko
  10. Alas, I must admit, I secretly enjoyed Asuna being cut down and being dead -albeit for measly two minutes or so- a little bit for the annoying “Japanese cute-girl-crying” sin she committed repeatedly last week, which greatly annoyed me (what? She’s the main heroine, so I knew she wouldn’t be dead for good in episode 14, but can a man enjoy such precious moment a little??!!)

    Yeah, I am a bad boy for enjoying the RC community’s beloved heroine being temporarily dead; serve a paper and sue me, sue me, What can you do me~~? ♫.

  11. Curse you Kayaba Akihik! How dare you betray my trust! And after I posted this comment last week…
    REPLY | LINK 3 0

    how much of a dick would you feel like if you ninja a tank’s loot in this game…Heathcliff earned so much respect from me this episode >:)”

    Do I feel silly right now.

    1. I think I understand Kayaba’s motives. It’s just that it takes a sociopath(?) to do what he did.

      When someone creates a song, or a painting, or really anything that means something to them (so, not someone who is creating something because it’s a job), and they show it off, they want/hope the observers to appreciate it for what it is, for everything that it is.

      In trapping the players into a death-game, that’s exactly what Kayaba did. He created a world so detailed that there was a food-crafting system that let people combine flavors. If they weren’t trapped in the game, players would log out whenever they got hungry, tired, needed a shower, had to go to school/work, etc. Without the death penalty, players would just power their way through the game and miss a great deal of the experience. I would even speculate that the camaraderie that was felt between players who shared life-and-death experiences is on average, much greater on average than what is felt between MMORPG players today.

    2. Not even Kayaba ever truly understood why he did what he did, he wanted to create the world of his dreams and make it a reality, but to do so thousand would die and in his insane mind this was a fair trade. The future arcs in this an possibly a second season will explain the tru consequences of this dream and motivation.

    3. Even if we don’t go into future content, let’s look at what Kayaba made.

      He didn’t simply make a game and then have people kill and be killed for fun.

      He was searching for a way to find that “steel castle in the sky”. He was looking for another world that he had only seen in his wildest dreams.

      What he made wasn’t simply a world either, because of the imperfections of the Nerve Gear. The world in SAO is definitely amazing but it isn’t perfect and would not hold up to the real world. They can tell it’s a game.

      So what did Kayaba make? He gave birth to 10,001 lives (if you include Yui). The players weren’t simply themselves in SAO. They assumed different identities and lived out totally separate lives to their conclusions. They worked, fought enemies, defended friends, and some even found love in the death game.

      Because of the fact that death was realized in the game, life, and their existences, had real value. The relationships they forged, whether it was camaraderie or rivalries, had real meaning. And Kayaba wasn’t simply some scientist running experiments. He was essentially the father to these 10,000 new lives. He walked with them side by side and watched over them from birth to death, and when it was all over, he let everything go and stayed true to the word he gave to his children.

      In SAO, Kayaba was god creator, comrade in arms, and father all rolled into one. If you ask me, that’s one hell of a legacy.

      1. Not just that, Kayaba’s world lead to the creation of many new VR worlds and also an entire world populated by real AIs that have souls. Those AIs have desires, fears, love, hate.

        Suppa Tenko
    4. The only thing Kayaba Akihito wanted to do was fulfill his childhood dreams. When you were younger, didn’t you wish you could depart on an adventure into a fantasy world and fight dragons, rescue pretty girls, meet comrade in arms. Stuff like that.

      Suppa Tenko
      1. But in the end he played God instead. That was bad on his part, but his work ended up being the base of every MMO ever. I wonder if Brain Burst was also derived from the World Seed he created.

        The Moondoggie
      2. The irony is, all kinds of things that Kayaba dreamed….an MMO world in the form of a floating castle…the life of a swordsman who lived with a beautiful dame in a house deep inside the forest…was all acquired by Kirito…i can imagine him hoping Kirito would continue his legacy after he was gone…

    1. Martin has a really unique to aprouch fantasy, A Song Of Ice and Fire shows the true ugliness behind the world the chracters inhabit and that´t why none of cats is really safe until all is said and done. I love the he develops the story, my only complaint is the fate of the poor Eddard, the only good father in that twisted world.

      1. They are completely different works of literature, SAO make a great work dveloping the human emotions and relationshps between the characters (that´s why I love it), meanwhile A Song of Ice and Fire is a chronicle of the characters to survive in a world so filled with madness and corruption that nobody is able to see the darkness that is slowly envelopin all. And yes yu´re right, Martin-sensei is not getting any youger so he has to finish that wonderfull story before is to late, at least he has the names of the last two books.

      2. Definitely agreed with haseo here. Having read both, not only are styles of writing and content totally different, the intended overall tone, message and philosophies being explored are different.

        Both are totally valid in their own right. I don’t think either one must detract from one to prop up the other. Both hold up their own weight. They are both fully matured works in their own right.

        SAO may be from a 16 year old’s perspective but that doesn’t mean content befitting an adult is not there. They’re exploring elements of human transcendence, the effect of theoretical technology on society and humanity at large (the staple of any classic science fiction), as well as the human psyche under situations of crisis, not unlike any other apocalypse/end of the world scenario where humans must cope with a new existence or die along the way.

        If you adore A Song of Ice and Fire, I’m sure you can appreciate meaning that’s below the surface of a message am I right? ; )

  12. Well, it’s not that much different “ass-pull” than Accel worlds Incarnate system, both games are not designed to allow “game breaking” but in both it is possible to do it if you believe it enough.

    Hopefully second arc has some scenery porn again.

  13. There is a delay between being ‘killed’ in game and being ‘killed’ irl, as shown by the rez potion back from the nightmare Santa boss.

    Clearing the game seemed to stop all functions of the game so they remained in the ‘purgatory’ area when it was shutting down.

      1. But this is a not a good example for saying Book>Anime. The anime could either voice Kirito’s inner thoughts with a line like this: “What’s with that face? It’s like he’s looking down on everyone as if they were puppets”. Or just picture Heathcliff with a expression like that.

        Seeing that god-face on Heathcliff animated was the main reason why I wanted to see this episode. But it was absent, he was just looking at the walls and doing nothing.

        A-1 isn’t really doing it’s best with SAO.

    1. Actually, Asuna’s sword “Lambent Light” was forged by Lisbeth as well. It was the best sword she had ever forged in SAO until Kirito’s “Dark Repulser” came along. Supposedly the level of quality for Dark Repulser was almost equal to Lambent Light

  14. The anime was absolutely amazing!

    While I agree that the emotional effect was dampened severely when the main characters didn’t die (I assume Asuna is alive as well)… and that even that ending after 14 episodes would have been bittersweet but much more emotional and climactic all the more for it… i do hope the main duo ends up being together in a “forever ever after” type of scenario.

    I am always one for shattering good endings and applying established rules equally to all, but I just love Kirito and Asuna so much that the first scenario above would be just as heartfelt for me (and even more so since its final too if they die) as the scenario where they survive and meet each other and proceed from where they left off in the game…

    They deserve to be together! 🙂 Sorry for the sappy and saccharine post… not many animes out there that really make me feel and root for the main protagonists to stay together forever…

    1. Not only is amazing but also a good adaptation of the source material and I get what you mean, the last scene as Aincrad crumble into ashes really toch my heart, you should the scene in the novel, it my made cry little; dying together with the only person you will ever love is truly heart whrecking and beautiful at the same time.

    1. Okay, I laughed at the side comments.

      My Lil Sister Can’t Be This Cute.
      – Capture your “non-blood related” sister’s heart

      A bit meta considering Taketatsu Ayana voices Suguha. ^^

  15. This is what I liked about the SAO novels: that they dealt with the whole SAO arc quickly.

    While it would (potentially) have made for better storytelling if the LN and anime walked us through Kirito’s entire experience, I bet that would have gone on for more than 10 volumes with the end set far off in the distance. The longer it dragged on, the bleaker it would have felt with players dying left and right, PK guilds forming, and most of the players cowering back on the first floor being subject to the tyranny of jerks. At some point, fatigue sets in and the journey is no longer fun. (Like Lost. Vampire Hunter D. The Kardashians)

    By ending it quickly, I think it actually made the side-stories more fun to read. (As the side-stories were written after the first volume)

    Come to think of it, this ties back into the post I made for the last episode, about how readers can sit back and enjoy the ride when they know the ending.

    I am curious as to what other readers of the LN think.

    1. true but ur ignoring the positive aspects of dragging it longer, like giving more time for more character development.(not tht current lvl of character development is bad)

    2. The thing about the side stories is that it’s fun when you want to read them, but the anime forces you to watch them (kind of).

      it’s kinda sad that we won’t see Phantom Bullet or Alicization. That would be a truly fantasy story.

      Suppa Tenko
  16. how the hell is he able to walk after two years in bed. Even astronauts who spent only 3 months in space, wouldn’t be able to walk if they didn’t exercise daily. He wouldn’t even be able to raise his hand actualy

    1. I don’t remember if this was addressed in the novels, but the answer is probably because he was in a hospital. I believe nurses perform some minimum exercises on comatose patients to keep the muscles from atrophying too quickly, as well as to keep blood from pooling in one area.

    2. The novel states that all SAO victims were placed in a special gel bed that absorbs all body waste and preserves muscle streanght to a certain extent, Kirito has his mucles in a poor state and belive every step is a living hell but compare to not seing Asuna that pain is nothing to him.

    3. The reason why astronauts degenerate much faster than coma patients on earth is the lack of gravity not the lack of motion. Your bones and muscles are maintained at a level required to hold your body together but in microgravity that requirement is greatly reduced hence the rapid degeneration. They will still need physiotherapy to get back into decent shape as their strength will be reduced significantly but not as severe as staying two years in a coma in space.



  17. It was a great episode compared to some other episodes this arc that were far too rushed and shallow ended. I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

    And I have to agree, the anime made it far more shallow for Kayaba to save the main characters via deus ex machina. A little more emphasis on Kayaba’s amazement that Kirito and Asuna were able to break the rules of his world, to overcome paralysis and death to do what had to be done would have made it more viable that Kayaba saved them out of his own will, and not just as a plot device of “SAVE THE MAIN CHARACTERS! WE HAVE 11 EPISODES LEFT STILL!!” But oh well, it was still well done, even if it was cliched.

  18. It was a nice episode and pretty emotional. The pace was good and didn’t feel too rushed. There is a lot more behind Kayaba than what has been shown or said.

    The end of this arc feels like the anime was trying to show it as a end to a nightmare kind of feeling, but came off as a fairy tale and everything is all peachy at the end with the main characters living.

    Some may feel that way, but I enjoyed it regardless.

  19. well, going to avoid on adding anymore to moomba’s post.

    so to mention something else instead. it’s true that it was nice they added him to be decrepit, and it was for anime hero effect that he could still walk (painfully) to find Asuna.

    However, that shouldn’t even be possible.

    I had a time where I stopped moving my body for 3 months, the muscles deteriorated to the point that I could even stand or even crawl. My bones were too heavy for my muscle that just by having my legs resting on anything hurts and strains my muscles like hell and had to had something tied to it to keep it suspended. With that experience, I can safely say that it’s simply impossible for him to even sit up and grab his nervegear and take it off, less alone to actually STAND AND WALK.

    And no, to people thinking I might be a masochist or a lazy bum who does nothing all day and lay in a bed, it wasn’t by choice that I stopped moving my body and sat for 3 months. I just want to point out the most unrealistic aspect of this episode is all.

    All that said, I really honestly enjoyed this episode so much I watched it three times in a row. I don’t really feel dissatisfied as moomba though, I loved it so much I felt like going to Asuna as the first thing I would’ve done and god did I just say I loved this episode? I LOVE THIS EPISODE!

      1. You would still have trouble standing. Even if the nurse help you exercise your muscles, the fact you remained on the bed for 2 years is still there.

        I have been hospitalized not too long ago. It was half a month, but even I have some trouble standing and moving around. It strains my muscles if I walk too long or even try to run, it’s a pain.

        Kirito would’ve been unable to stand up.

      2. Yeah that struck me odd even when I was reading the LN. But on the other side, it’s dramatic, because it’s as if there’s an invisible force moving Kirito’s muscles to find Asuna as soon as possible IRL.

    1. Well, it is anime. And story wise, it’s 2024. Maybe they developed some advanced muscle stimulation technology so the deterioration would not be as bad as we would experience now.

      1. In the LN they explain that he is in a therapeutic bed made of some kind of gel that absorbs your body wastes, but think that his brains have not given orders to his legs or arms in 24 months…

    1. Considering the icon floated above Heathcliff, it probably means him.

      They did not say this in the anime, but in the light novel Heathcliff said that should Kirito lose, he will make it so that Asuna cannot leave a safe zone for a while.

      1. Perhaps I should have been more specific. Heathcliff agreed to Kirito’s request that Asuna would not be able to commit suicide. But the way he is going to do it is by confining her to a town, a safe zone where a player’s HP cannot decrease.

        Here is the part from the light novel that says this.

        Finally, I turned my gaze back to the girl who had allowed me to say the words that had been buried deeply within my heart for two years.

        I looked upon the smiling Asuna whose face was covered by tears—

        I muttered an apology to her inside my mind and turned back around. I faced Kayaba, who still had an expression of absolute superiority, and opened my mouth:

        “…Sorry about this, but I have one thing to ask.”

        “What is it?”

        “I don’t have any intention of losing, but if I die — can you prevent Asuna from committing suicide, even if only for a short period?”

        Kayaba raised an eyebrow in surprise, but calmly nodded to my request.

        “Okay. I’ll set it so that she won’t be able to leave Salemburg.”

  20. And now we finished Aincrad arc.Regreattable that the Big boss fight is off-screen again (How many times that big fight been off-screen? Couldn’t us had a chance to watch it full sequence-animation for once?),This episode concluded first arc.Now,wait anxiously for next arc.

  21. It finally did something good on the last episode of this arc, so props indeed.
    But otherwise, it’s still pretty bad– as you mentioned, the whole realism and deus ex mahina evvvverywhere.
    The post was realistic and agreeable- I see no harsh criticism.

  22. GAMEOVER! And it took 14 to go over everything important that happened in two years. I must say they have done a pretty good job at it.

    Now that we are moving on with the next Arc, I’m looking at everything up to now and I must say I’m very happy with how they did it, with slight difference from how the Light Novel was. Some parts were a little off but, hey, this is an anime adaptation. Of course it would be off.

    Kayaba’s dead, that’s pretty clear. Kirito and everyone else are safe, even Asuna. But it isn’t over yet.

    The Moondoggie
      1. The answer is in the next arc, warning MAJOR spoilers:

        Show Spoiler ▼

      1. Your statement was just a contracted version of the statements children make when they don’t like something but can’t explain why.

        “Shitty adaptation is shitty”


        “Because it’s shitty.”

        Also, you’re using it as a subjective term. It CAN’T be a fact, by definition. What IS a fact is that you believe SAO to be a shitty adaptation.

        Now, if watching SAO left brown smears on your computer monitor and a foul odor started coming from the vents, I would concede that its status as “shitty” was factual.

  23. Despite not sharing my thoughts and opinion on previous SAO reviews on RC, I have been following the series rather faithfully.

    In all of the previous episodes, I am pretty content with the overall presentation. Never had much to complain about it, to be honest. I am however, very happy with how they’ve handle the ending for Aincrad arc. Hopefully they’ll be able to do the same for the next arc.

  24. Kawahara Reki has a habit of going for the feels instead of, y’know, following his own rules. It makes great entertainment actually, since he does this very well as long as you ignore the voice in the back of your head going “buh but nooo that doesn’t make seeeeense…”

  25. This arc didn’t end, it just stopped. This is kind of bad narrative is something I would expect from a show that suddenly got cancelled. It felt like Kawahara gave up and wrote a rushed ending. Sorry SAO fans, but this is the first time I actually hated an episode. I’ve always found SAO cliche but inoffensive until now.

    First it began with a cop-out with the Floor Boss that they built up last episode and have it killed in one minute. Then out of nowhere Kirito somehow deduces that Heathcliff HAS to be Kayaba with very loose evidence and just HAPPENS to be 100% correct. Did he come to that conclusion with the immortal Yui too?

    The reveal of Heathcliff I have no complaints about, in fact it would have been a genius way to reveal the Big Bad. Except it is then wasted, because Kayaba suddenly decides to end things right then and gives way to one of the most boring climactic battles ever where Kirito just wails at him like an idiot. Then Kayaba gets this surreal peaceful sendoff with Kirito and Asuna and it really confused me. Did the show forget that Kayaba is a psycho who condemned 10000 people to a horrible game of life and death?

    1. Are you blaming Kawahara, or the anime? Because it’s been pretty faithful to the LN. And the boss fights are pretty much non-existent too.

      Also, someone reacting faster than the game should allow is loose evidence?

      1. So you’re saying the jarring pacing, rushed romantic development, and large amount of ass pulls are part of the LN? Because that makes makes me question why the source material is hyped and highly praised. It also makes me think that the anime is suffering from directorial incompetence. Copying the LN to a visual medium and not using it improve some of its flaws reeks of bad adaptation.

        Take Total Eclipse for example. The battle with the Railgun in the LN was a boring “Good guys are losing, Yuuya fires railgun, good guys won”. The anime builds up the moment when Yuuya fires it, by actually showing the Soviets dying, the battle getting desperate, Yuuya getting frustrated then disobeying orders to fire the Railgun and win the day. If SAO can’t do something similar what’s the point of adapting an anime?

        Also, someone reacting faster than the game should allow is loose evidence?

        So far the only thing Kirito had to go on was his duel loss and that Heathcliff was immortal. Me, I’d conclude that Heathcliff was an NPC or system program especially considering he just met Yui who had the same circumstances. His “You’re the Big Bad who trapped us here and is pretending to be a PC” conclusion comes way out of left field. Even more ridiculous was that Heathcliff could spin a dozen excuses to explain it but he just went “Yes Kirito, your awesomeness makes you completely right”.

      2. @fragb85

        So you’re saying the jarring pacing, rushed romantic development, and large amount of ass pulls are part of the LN? Because that makes makes me question why the source material is hyped and highly praised. It also makes me think that the anime is suffering from directorial incompetence. Copying the LN to a visual medium and not using it improve some of its flaws reeks of bad adaptation.

        The original LN was far from perfect, especially vol.1, which for the most part is what the latter half of the episodes aired so far is based on. However, a lot of your issues IMO is due to the fact that the writer primarily used inner monologues by Kirito to explain many of the important infos, which was not used in the anime. Unfortunately I don’t think A-1 did a very good job finding other methods to substitute for those monologues, and so much of those important details are simply lost on the anime viewers.

        So far the only thing Kirito had to go on was his duel loss and that Heathcliff was immortal. Me, I’d conclude that Heathcliff was an NPC or system program especially considering he just met Yui who had the same circumstances. His “You’re the Big Bad who trapped us here and is pretending to be a PC” conclusion comes way out of left field. Even more ridiculous was that Heathcliff could spin a dozen excuses to explain it but he just went “Yes Kirito, your awesomeness makes you completely right”.

        This is a direct result of what I just said above, the anime did not do a very good job in showing how Kirito arrived at his conclusion.

      3. So you’re saying the jarring pacing, rushed romantic development, and large amount of ass pulls are part of the LN? Because that makes makes me question why the source material is hyped and highly praised.

        Pretty much, yes. As has been mentioned before, the first volume of the LN was covered by episodes 1, 8-10, 13-14. Basically, at the end of the SAO arc. Which meant things like relationships and personalities were more or less taken as a given. It’s like when you watch a TV show, and a married couple is introduced. Do you question how they got together, or why they act all lovey-dovey? No, the viewer just accepts it and moves on.

        So far the only thing Kirito had to go on was his duel loss and that Heathcliff was immortal. Me, I’d conclude that Heathcliff was an NPC or system program especially considering he just met Yui who had the same circumstances. His “You’re the Big Bad who trapped us here and is pretending to be a PC” conclusion comes way out of left field. Even more ridiculous was that Heathcliff could spin a dozen excuses to explain it but he just went “Yes Kirito, your awesomeness makes you completely right”.

        As for Kirito’s evidence, yeah. In the LN, all he has to go on is Kayaba’s reaction time and the superior look in Kayaba’s eyes as he looks at everyone.

        Regarding the Immortal Object status, NPCs don’t take damage, which means Heathcliff’s lifebar would never have dropped if he were one. And while Kayaba certainly could have denied it, what would constitute a believable argument?

        -“I found a game-breaking item and told no-one about it?” (Unlikely since Kayaba would not allow such an item to exist.
        -“I found a way to hack into the game, and decided to let everyone else die?”

        Also, then many people would be reluctant to continue fighting when there is an INVINCIBLE player next to them. Let him do all the work.

        Lastly, why would Kayaba lie at all? He was planning on exposing himself later on anyway. It’s a slight bump in his scenario schedule, but so what? Besides, even if he did lie, the players would be forever suspicious of the invincible player in their midst. His intended dramatic reveal at the 90s floors would be totally ruined.

      4. I agree that the novel was far from perfect.
        When I read the first volume, which as Rasen said only covered half of the episodes, I also questioned – what made this novel so praiseworthy?
        It definitely opened up a new way of thinking – an imagination – maybe not as a story, because the first volume definitely feels like it’s jumping here and there (mind you, the anime also jumps from a random point in time to another, not even timeskip), but it does form a ‘world’. In fact I feel like each time we’re presented with a story/side story, we get a glimpse of what the ‘world’ is, and helps to ‘complete’ (even though it’s never complete) our imagination of the ‘world’.

        And again, mind you, this story is as old as .hack, both started in ~2002. It was a fresh way of thinking that opened up new possibilities of imaginations (story that is, reality’s still far away..)
        And I played my first MMO back in 1998, and back then it was still 2D, even Ultima Online.. Ragnarok Online with its 2.5D was just out in 2002.. The concepts were just starting to bloom back then, so to make a story with the points I mentioned above, with making the readers able to immerse to the novel’s world, I guess was a praiseworthy achievement 🙂

    2. They could have voiced the reasoning behind the scene work better here for those that have not read the novel.

      At this point, I am assuming that the studio is assuming that the majority of those watching the show have read the novel already. The novels have already been out for quite a long while in Japan so not knowing the plot would be like not knowing that Dumbledore dies at this point.

      That being said, they compartmentalized the ending of SAO too much but it was probably a time constraint that made them compromise so they could fit in the next arc.

      In the source material, much of the reasoning and explanation occurs in the protagonist’s mind but as a choice of style, they decided to do away with much of that in the show. I can only imagine the reason, perhaps because they needed to move on and work on the next episode, a guess at best.

      Finally, no, no one forgot that Kayaba got plenty of people killed. But at the same time, they can’t truthfully say that they didn’t have awe inspiring moments and “fateful” meetings that were totally unique to the SAO that Kayaba made. The fact that they suffered made the times that they managed to find a little happiness and peace stand out more. So they naturally have mixed feelings about Kayaba (that will only get more muddled as the story goes on).

  26. I wish they cut the OP for this ep. I would’ve liked at least 30 seconds to see how players were reacting to a voice in the sky telling them the game was cleared… *cough*Liz’s “epilogue”*cough*

    It would have been hilarious to see someone attempting a PK to fail due to the game being cleared at that time.

  27. Like some of the post above, I am one of those who are glad that I knew nothing of the source material and even much better yet…I avoided the forums about this series except for an episode or two which I actually posted something.

    1. Still in a state of disbelief though, while its true that this episode has some questionable content it didn’t really take away the enjoyment I get from this series in the past 13 episodes. The moment Asuna was hit, I said “NO!” their is no way she will die when I’m rooting for her, for Kirito, and the rest of the people their “Freedom” and this is just the 14th episode, I even have to check MAL for the episode listing and still it says 25 episode, it would have been a very unbearable final 11 episodes if in case Asuna really did died in this episode. Anyways, thank goodness all is well (not).

  28. Apparently Asuna could recover from a game status effect through belief alone and Kirito was able to soldier on and defeat Kayaba Akihiko despite already being dead.

    On this point, I tend to give Kawahara a bit of slack, as it’s something of a running theme/system in both SAO and Accel World that it’s possible for a person’s “soul” to overwrite the system.

    1. A forgiving death penalty = Accel World’s lose your memory/account. Like that? XD

      can’t say I’m A-Ok with how deadly the game was. But it would be definitely be interesting how gamers today would react when thrown into the same situation.

      The Moondoggie
  29. TBH, I think SAO is a good series, but not great, and certainly not excellent. Sometimes I just don’t understand what is the hype why everyone is so into this. Is it because of the story? The female lead? or is it just that I should go and read the LN?

  30. I’ll have to agree with everyone. This ending was kind of… off. The inconsistencies with what the rules of the game were and what transpired in the “final battle” were way too obvious. From what the LN readers are saying, it seems that it’s not really the anime’s fault but the source material. But really, anime’s diverge from their source material all the time to accommodate the fact that it’s a tv show with a certain amount of time to tell a piece of a cohesive story. They should’ve improved on Kawahara’s initial ending of this arc by letting Kirito win outright or (if we want to get all “I think, therefore I am”) having Asuna do her “I believe I can save Kirito’s arse once again!” and coming in just the nick of time to kill Kayaba with Kirito. That would be believable and more realistic than Kirito willing himself to linger long enough to strike the final blow. If that’s all it took to stick around a few moments longer, wouldn’t that have happened with other players who died? Are we saying that Kirito’s desire to live a few seconds longer was greater than others we’ve seen die? 4,000 others? Meh… I love the show, honestly I do. It’s every gamer’s dream to actually be in the game they’re playing (albeit minus the really dying part). But this ending was not entirely satisfying. Cute “final” moments between Asuna and Kirito, awesomely voice acted! I agree with what someone else mentioned before. They shouldn’t have done that drawn out awakening scene, total waste of time. Just show him opening his eyes and calling Asuna’s name, because in reality, after two years of being in a coma… Kirito wouldn’t have the strength to sit up, let alone shuffle around with the help of an IV stand. That level of mobility after being bed ridden so long is only achieved through quite a bit of physical therapy. Essentially, he has to learn to walk all over again.

    But anyways… Here’s to next week. I want to see Asuna and Kiri- I mean, Kazuto together in real life and see what this ALO business is about.

    1. Actually if I remember correctly from the LN, it’s less his “will power” but more his “ability to accelerate time”. Again, if I am recalling this correctly, because of Kirito’s battle with Heathcliff, his senses are still accelerated as his health drains and being the player with the fastest reaction speed (which was why the system awarded him with Dual Blades, a Unique Sword Skill), he was able to stab Kayaba before scattering.

      To be more accurate, the anime prolonged the final stab so it seemed like a long time but the events of:
      Kirito being stabbed/ utter despair> watched his hp drop to the last pixels/ burst of anger and indignant at how Kayaba used the players like puppets> raises his sword toward Heathcliff/ Kayaba surprised> sword stabs Heathcliff/ Kayaba smiles accepting the outcome that he didn’t foresee.
      ALL that happened within literally a moment in the LN ( with no confusing, scattering and reforming imaginationary scene).

      I think Kirito’s yellow eyes were especially confusing and frankly inaccurate to the source material.

      The LN also has a lot of monologue which address several inconsistencies and baffling moments of the anime, as well as generally having more details.

      I stil enjoyed this adaptation, but of course it isn’t able to capture the subtleties of the LN.

  31. I think MOOMBA is wrong in a few things, probably because he did not read the LN prior this episode.

    As Suppa Tenko stated, in the LN he did not dissapear before killing Heathcliff, in fact his HP bar gets depleted, then he goes into ‘berserk’ and kills Heathcliff before dissapearing. I think its safe to assume that Heathcliff lifted Asuna’s paralysis in order to enrage Kirito, remember that he promises that he will not let Asuna die in case she tries to kill herself (like throwing herself between Heathcliff’s attack and Kirito). It was in Kayaba’s plans to die since he created a unique dual sword skill and configured Cardinal to give it to the player most fitted to fight against him, also Show Spoiler ▼

    I think they focused way too much on the battle and they changed a few things in order to make the things look way more epic (and romantic).

  32. Great ending to the first arc. Having not read any of the mangas or novels, I must say this is one of those animes that truly sticks out. I praise the writer for the twists and turns in the story, and especially the real life concepts that the writer was able to implement into this show. It was something that was out of the regular stuff that is on air right now. However despite my praise of this show, there’s alot of character/plot/pacing problems. I was abit confused as the direction this show is targeted towards, there are some really deep concepts into this show, but at time, I feel that the show shifts towards a much younger audience. Also the pacing really taunted my feelings towards this show. The eps didn’t feel they linked up properly and the set up to this arc’s climax was extremely harsh. We had 2 and 1/5 of eps where it was almost plot unrelated, expect for being a fan service of the fans of KiritoXAsuna, then right after that was a sudden final battle to the first arc. Though, these flaws aside, the story’s concept of rpg and current human interaction truly had me hooked on every week. Great story concept, will be looking forward for future works.

    Just A Random Guy
  33. It is just as well I have not read the novels, or I’m afraid I would have raged just like they have.

    It would seem Accel World would be the more superior anime adaptation, as Sunrise does have decades of experience doing sci-fi stuff, whereas A-1 is more suited to doing moe (iDOLM@STER), comedy (Working) and drama (AnoHana). But A-1 will still have 11 more episodes to try and redeem themselves.

    A few things I still don’t understand (apart from the glaring Engrish error “chaged into immortal object” when it should clearly be “changed into mortal object”):

    1. How is it Kirito survived? By virtue of him defeating Heathcliff – the Last Boss that he’s exempted from “dying”?

    2. How is it Asuna stayed to the end with Kirito? What’s with that limbo state where they observed the collapse of Aincrad with Kayaba?

    3. From promotional clips of the second arc, Asuna is clearly still alive, but how?

    Kinny Riddle
    1. First of all, this was by far the worst adapted episode. In order to answer your questions, I will use spoilers as some things are found in the next arc:

      1. Show Spoiler ▼

      2. Show Spoiler ▼

      3. Show Spoiler ▼

      On a side note, in the light novels they only tell you that if your HP bar gets depleted and they don’t use the unique revive item in 10 seconds or less, you will die in real life. So maybe there’s a chance the players stayed in some kind of purgatory for a few seconds/minutes/hours before dying in real life. The only way to tell in the outside world if someone was killed or not was to see if their Nervegears leds turned from green to red (something similar to Xbox360 red ring of death).

  34. I can imagine the end of ALO already.
    Show Spoiler ▼

    1. You are on the right track, but Show Spoiler ▼

      Now I’m wondering if they will adapt the epilogue of ALO, it covers a few interesting things.

      1. You may want to re read that part
        Show Spoiler ▼

  35. I have not read the light novel series either, but I don’t think this episode made THAT little sense. Sure, being able to overcome paralysis and delaying your death with sheer willpower (though that is just an assumption, no?) is a bit over the top, but the fact that kirito and asuna (assuming again) are not dead has a good reason to it, no? The game was cleared before their 10 minutes after death was over. When the game is cleared, everyone can log out, and thus, so did kirito and asuna.

    I am REALLY wondering what the second cour would be like. The story’s finished, and it seems like there is not even a chance of continuation since the world’s data is erased and all…

  36. It’s vexing. I see a lot of plot holes that could have been addressed properly. Kirito not Dying on 0 hp? LAG! If he was locked in a fast paced combat that would have explained why he was able to take down Heathcliff. Or Asuna and Kirito not kicking the bucket. The 10 minute was established earlier. Lets say they sit around. Then Kirito is like: Hmm wonder if I have my logout button back. HOLLY COW ITS THERE!!!.

    I still like this episode but I can’t shake the feeling that most of the Deus ex machina could have been realistically addressed and it ended up in the final version because of lazy writing.

    On the other hand… I had a creepy tough: So you die in SOA… then get teleported to a room above the play field and are treated to a nice view while waiting for your brain to be fried. Sick.

  37. Ok, Kirito dies, then comes back to life to kill Kayaba, then dies again, then actually survives and wakes up? I like this show and all, and I know it’s not really meant to be taken seriously, but come on, talk about an asspull. You HAVE to call bullshit on this. That is, unless the left out an explanation to this from the lite novel. Anyone? Someone throw me a bone here, lol.

      1. Huh? If the first shattering was in his head, then why would they even bother showing that scene in the first place? All it does is confuse the living hell out of the viewer.

  38. I’m prolly in the minority here when I say I wasn’t really impressed with this episode. Fight was lame and using Deus Ex Machina thrice was even lamer.

    In any case I wonder how the story will continue on from here…

    1. He didn’t change her into an immortal object. What that screen was supposed to indicate was him deactivating his own status as an immortal object. Unfortunately the Engrish said something entirely different to what it was meant to…

  39. someone sounds a bit off that they didn’t think “why was Heathcliff so impossible to beat, also the most stereotypical looking old man ever.” Also where was there an emphasis on realism? A neuro interface helmet with an unbeatable microwave engine in it that couldn’t be disabled by the worlds scientists and engineers in over two years?

    Anyway yeah being able to rule break is an easy out, but he’s also able to use a GM terminal and it becomes set in stone that he isn’t exactly bound by the game rules. But the Matrix was still watchable even though Neo wasn’t bound by the rules of the game.

  40. it is not possible to get died and then will yourself to come back to life to execute the killing blow. dont recall what happened in the LN but it definitely seemed like they deviated this time.

  41. I feel that the Fairy Dance arc is going to be really well done. The director does not have any side stories to animate this time since the only side stores take place after the main plot.
    I thought it was done well with the source material that they had and not wanting to deviate from it. Kirito grasping at Asuna’s pixels was sad, and the ending scene where they say their real names was adorable. My Twitter feed was filled with quotes of Asuna saying that Kirito was younger lol.
    Random thought, who is playing Suguha?

  42. so…no loot for the final boss kill?
    and i’m guessing the series is gonna enter a new game plus mode?
    still the fact that akihiko was voiced by the same guy who did ryouji kaji in evangelion really caught me off guard…

  43. A comment about the music. I remember someone complaining about the lack of music in SAO, maybe at the beginning, but as they say – you only notice something after it has been missing. I think the use of music was alright – not overused, and when it’s not necessary (e.g. battle scenes) it wasn’t used. I mean, I feel cheesy if everytime I fight there’s a weird bgm. It just felt unrealistic. The silence adds to the tension and make you more aware of the conversation and battles. In fact, they use a lot of music in peaceful times, and they make me appreciate the serenity of those times.. Anyone else still doesn’t like the way music is used in this anime?

  44. I saw Kirito and Asuna’s ability to break the system as perfectly valid. In software, if you have a program where all the input is known before hand, programmers have to be pretty sloppy to allow bugs. However, when your input source is something irregular, such as something analog, or corrupted, software breaks easily. How many times have you tried to use a corrupt file that ended up causing your video player to crash?

    When it comes to making software like this, you have two options: capture the nerve impulses and try and use them as input to recreate what the user might be doing, or let the user’s brain do the work of making the image, and capture the image instead. Obviously, you’d go for the latter — the software would be insanely complex to turn brain impulses like crying or laughing into virtual tears & sound. Then what the software has to do is place restrictions on images that it doesn’t want to allow users to perform. All that’s left then, is for the user to make an image that the system doesn’t know how to restrict to gain control (this is pretty much how device jailbreaks are made).

    Really, if this was implemented by 2022 (even from the standpoint of the novels being written ten years ago), I’d expect it to break much more easily 😛

  45. OK… they lost me a bit… or even a lot!
    So, first Asuna breaks paralysis by sheer willpower, then Akito defeats Kayaba whiled being himself dead – at least for game purposes?
    And then he wakes up in the RL, alive?
    All of this is quite forced, and diminishes the effects of dramatic parting scene, and is insulting to all the players who died for real…
    And what will be the sense and purpose of the further episodes? I am betting diamonds versus nuts – hell, I will bet against EMPTY nuts! – that most of the survivors would stay 10 meters from PC or console for rest of their lives… And I would not blame them in the slightest!
    My final gripe is the senseless destruction of the world I started to like, along with Kirito and Asuna’s enjoying being there. Though survivors would probably never go back, destroying the virtual world was last of Kayaba’s arrogant sins. You don’t break beautiful thing simply because it stopped nbeing useful!
    Still, I dont regret picking up and watching the series, because at least I was able to witness Aincrad before it was lost forever.

  46. Sword Art Online ends both its first course and in the literal sense in this exciting episode.

    I remember commenting a few episodes back how Heathcliff struck me as detached, which at the time I just attributed to his position as being the head of a major guild, but never once did I suspect he would actually turn out to be Kayaba. Considering Kayaba’s a man who knowingly killed thousands all to achieve his own ends, it makes perfect sense that he would come off as having little emotion to what’s going on around him. That, and Heathcliff’s victory in his first duel with Kirito was always suspect.

    This episode gave us the best, and I assume only, peek into the mind of Kayaba Akihiko and in all honesty… he didn’t come across like the madman I thought he would. Of course he’s still the villain whose list of crimes can be cited throughout the entirety of the show’s first course, and he well deserved the karma Kirito brought to him with that final blow, but even if he can’t be forgiven I still in some ways find him sympathetic.

    Kayaba had a dream, a vision of sorts, to live out a fantasy that he constructed in Sword Art Online. In some respects he may have seen himself as helping the players by putting them into this fantastic world as well, and created the disconnect between the virtual and real world to ensure it became a true reality to them. I wouldn’t call him insane, but I doubt he was ever in a right state of mind when he enacted his plan. Kayaba wanted to achieve his dream through any means possible, something many people can sympathize with, but he went much too far with it, ultimately costing both his life and the lives of many innocent people.

    Kirito vs Kayaba was awesome, and certainly a long time coming. From the very beginning Kirito has had a connection of sorts to Kayaba, having admired him before the death game began, and all throughout the show Kirito had been thrust into the thick of the pain and suffering Kayaba had inflicted on the players. And as much as it was about saving everyone, fighting and killing Kayaba was very much personal for Kirito especially after the Black Cats. But it wasn’t Kirito’s skills that won the fight, as Kayaba demonstrated by effortlessly blocking his attacks, it was his determinator attitude and refusal to give up that’s been demonstrated multiple times. It was that will that gave Kirito the power to not only free the rest of the players, but finally enact justice on Kayaba for all he’s done. It’s funny though, since in a way the two very much alike in that they both sought a fantasy world to escape the real world… only Kirito would never have drawn innocents into said fantasy and place them in a life or death situation.

    Maybe it’s just because I’m used to the concept from Accel World, but I had no problem with Kirito and Asuna using willpower to overpower the games systems and do the impossible. When you place a person’s consciousness in a virtual world, their emotions and will remain real and if anything has ever been apparent in the show its that willpower is the ultimate strength in Sword Art Online. A person’s will can inspire them to do the impossible, whether it be in video games, mecha, or any other type of fiction. Am I accepting of it because of the fact that I’m so used to seeing it in anime or is it because I’m just an idealist in that way? I guess in a way it’s a little bit of both.

    I’ve read a lot of theories online about how Kirito and Asuna were able to survive in the end, some I’d say actually credible, but when it gets right down to it I think the two of them living is evident that Sword Art Online isn’t truly a story about despair and death, but of facing it head on with those you love and finding that happy end at the end of it all. I might just be self-justifiying a deus ex machina, but when it gets right down to it I really do prefer happy endings… especially after the characters have gone through so much.

    Loved the cameo of Kirito’s harem, and of all the other characters of note. Heck, that list Kayaba showed at the end was practically filled with every living character on the show, from Grimlock, to Kibaou, to… Laughing Coffin… yeah, I’m expecting that to come up again eventually.

    I loved Kirito and Asuna’s supposed last moments. From finally giving out their real names, Kirito breaking down and apologizing, to the one final “I love you” from Asuna, it was enough to get me a little emotional even though in the back of my mind I knew it wasn’t truly the end. And having Kirito/Kazuto wake up and walk off to the ending theme to finally see Asuna was a perfect way to cap off the “end” of Sword Art Online.

    For a person like me who has been reading the novels along with the anime, what the future holds for Kirito and Asuna is quite uncertain. But I’m definitely looking forward to it, and I’m sure I’ll be entertained in the next 11 episodes. And hopefully Klein fits in there somewhere…

  47. Man, tht ending was ;-: (Not exactly, but tht how I feel in my heart even though I ended laughing at one particular scene)

    KiriSuna overcoming the system is awesome/fine for me. Realism be d*mn lol. (Heck, this isn’t reality lol and more realistic than .hack lol)

    No complains except for the engrish typo (Lol), the explanation of “why Heathcliff is suspicious” and the high tech gel bed.

    And boy, was the ending symbolic?? And why am I reminded of Eva elevator sequence lol.

    Grimlock still alive?? Lol. Also, nice cameo of Kirito harem and those one-shot charac. (I hope we can see more of Yolko, Nun, Yulier and Thinker lol)

  48. My only qualm was, i wish they had more inter monologue of Kirito explaining more of the world. There are some things that i think needed better explaining in terms of game mechanics.

    For someone who hasn’t read the light novel, as my friend, he was very confused with the pacing, he soon asked me how many episodes are left in the series. To that regard, i think that the show did a poor job portraying the direction. When they make this death game the ultimate thing that must be overcome, it almost seems like they threw it away to add the 2nd arc of the light novels.

    I think the whole series would have been better served if they did 24 episodes just on Aicrad, then if it did well, especially with a cliffhanger after 24 episodes, go on with the other arcs. I think this would have made this arc more meaningful.

  49. One thing makes me worried/wary – Kayaba never explicitly stated he was also wearing death helmet of doom… so it isnt impossible that his own had no “bomb” and he logged out freely after his defeat? And he might be still at large in the real world…

  50. Plot holes, inconsistencies or what not, I think what struck me in spades was how much Kirito loved Asuna… And vice versa. If there was a more concrete example of what dying for the sake of the other is, this is one of the examples.

    I’ve never seen such a refreshing take of a couple’s relationship, especially a married couple in anime (even a virtual one) such as these two in recent memory, even more so in anime.

  51. I agree with the flaws/shortcomings you highlighted in this arc finale episode, Moomba. And at the same time I can also freely say I enjoyed myself.

    For all its plot holes and storytelling hiccups, I’m nonetheless tremendously excited for the next arc.

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