At the precipice of defeat, Asuna mounts an epic last stand, with backing from memories of Yuuki to give her the courage required to stand up to PoH in one of the most visually stunning fights so far. For me it made for a really heartwarming parallel to Kirito’s connection to Eugeo – both sets of memories provide the underlying theme powering our narrative, giving Asuna and Kirito the respective inspiration and willpower to endure past their limits. And in Asuna’s case, she buys Kirito just enough time to make a comeback.
Kirito finally returns. But it is not a pleasant return to say the least. Stuck in a coma – on the verge of recovery – he is forced to relive the worst moments of his life. To many people, Kirito is this perfect Gary Stu who churns out bullshit time and time again. One that appears indomitable on the outside. However, it was really humbling to see such a formidable character be stripped down to his core essence – exposing the trauma that has been eating him alive this whole time. As we always knew from the first season, Kirito has always carried guilt for what happened to the Black Cats of Midnight. Even though their deaths came down to bad luck, Kirito always relives it as being a result of his own arrogance and complacency. Whether that is right or not is hard to say – a player of his skill level probably did a fair bit to help guarantee their safety in this virtual death game. But perhaps their association caused the guild members to overestimate themselves. And it’s totally understandable that seeing them all die one by one – especially Sachi, who was Kirito’s first love if we take the web novel into account (and a detail I wished that the light novel/anime kept).
The Final Fragment of Eugeo’s Fluctlight
And the suffering doesn’t end there. He recalls all the lives that expired before his eyes – close friends he couldn’t save, and villains whose lives he took with his very own hands. Regardless of whether any of it was his fault or not, or whether he had a justification for his actions, all come back to haunt him and Kirito can find no reprieve from these horrific memories. And the final hatchet manifests in the form of Eugeo – his best friend whose death he was responsible for. This moment utterly breaks Kirito – nearly causing him to commit suicide, even when the memories of Asuna, Suguha and Sinon try to dissuade him from undertaking that course of action. In an extremely visceral scene, Kirito rips open his chest with his bare hands – ignoring the extreme agony and gushing of blood, and prepares to crush his own heart. Fortunately, the fragment of Eugeo’s fluctlight within Kirito’s soul emerges. Kirito’s memories of Eugeo are sacred. So it would make sense that in addition to being forgiven and having his burden eased, Kirito would view it as an obligation not to crush his heart where proof of Eugeo’s existence resides. He needs to stay alive so that he can be a torch bearer who can affirm that Eugeo once existed – preventing him from being totally forgotten.
Determination renewed – Kirito finally awakens and returns to the fold. Despite being weak and emaciated, it is he who understands the fundamental basis of the world better than anyone else, having lived in the Underworld for a lifetime. Using his incarnation through the blue rose sword, Kirito activates Eugeo’s Perfect Enhanced Armament to freeze over the entire battlefield – incapacitating the threat of any hostile Chinese/Korean player. But it’s not quite enough to dispatch PoH – who shatters the ice and continues to power up through the accumulated suffering and death that has occurred within the Underworld. Now the moment has finally arrived – all alone and with his comrades exhausted to the point they cannot assist him – can Kirito protect the people that he cares about?
Anyway, that’s about everything I wanted to discuss. As always, thanks for reading this post. See you next week to find out whether Kirito can defeat PoH and save Alice from Subtilizer’s vicious pursuit.