“Yui-chan… you’re… in there, huh… My… Yui-chan…” Once again, her tears poured out endlessly. Within that blurred light, as if to answer Asuna, the center of the crystal twinkled with a single strong thump.
Kirito, Asuna and Yui are approached by the Army’s sub-leader, Yuriel, who asks for their assistance in rescuing their pacifistic leader Sinker, having been stranded in a high-level dungeon by Kibaou. After easily sweeping through the dungeon, Yuriel ignores Sinker’s warnings and triggers the Fatal Scythe, a Floor 90 boss monster that easily repels Kirito and Asuna’s attempts to fight it. Yui calmly walks out and easily deflects its attacks, revealing herself as an AI with the <Immortal Object> status and defeating the monster. She then tearfully recounts her story to Kirito and Asuna and is forcibly removed from the system, with Kirito’s last-ditch attempt to save her as an item, <Yui’s Heart> being successful.
Every single time, I get more and more certain that SAO is not your cliché bag of tricks, with each episode delivering week in week out. It seems to come as a whole collection – not just something leaning heavily into one genre, but testing the waters of many different themes ranging from action, romance and fanservice to drama or tragedy. Somehow it works just fine, and while admiring it you find yourself nodding sagely, feeling proud of yourself for deciding to watch the show for x number of weeks. Saying it’ll continue being awesome for the rest of the series may have been far-fetched back at Episode 1, but it’s much more realistic now isn’t it?
Enough of that. More importantly – you cried, right? I did, and I bet you did too, or your heart needs some proper thawing out to respond properly to the tragedy of such a sweet little girl. The theme of family was really well done here, and goes one step further from last week. That final moment was really heartfelt, and I could almost literally feel the raw, pure love Kirito and Asuna felt for Yui and how strong their emotions were ;_; What amplifies it even more is the virtual reality aspect of it – the entire world of SAO is not real, yet Kirito and Asuna’s love for their daughter most certainly was; and they love her with a passion, symbolized by her conversion into a game item as <Yui’s Heart>. Asuna saying she wouldn’t be able to smile if Yui left made me instantly tear up inside, and the tragedy of the whole situation made me tense up throughout the entire latter half of the ep. How we react to tragedy or drama is based on our emotional connection and attachment to the characters, as if we don’t like them we really couldn’t care less if they died. Personally, I think that family is amazing, and having followed the show for so long, knowing what would happen beforehand didn’t help much in preparation.
Of course, Yui is an AI – an artificial intelligence, which could very possibly exist in their time, given that virtual realities have been made. Adding to the tragic theme is Yui’s purpose; to monitor the players and their thought patterns, yet just sit there and do nothing as instructed. She claims herself to be a fake, having no real emotions – but I don’t believe that in the slightest. Her feelings at watching the terror and insanity faced by the other SAO players had to be real, and so did her wish to look for the happiness she found in Kirito and Asuna. Yui has developed true intelligence, and she has real feelings – I’m so glad she finally embraced them and accepted her Papa and Mama once more. All those kawaii moments can’t possibly have been fake at all; I was actually concentrating on watching Yui drink milk rather than listen to Yuriel’s explanation xD The Cardinal System, which controls Yui is interesting to say the least. It’s sure bold of Kayaba to decide to leave the entire operation of SAO to a single giant entity given the fact that thousands of players’ lives are at stake, with programs having the ability to malfunction. It explains why there’s no need for GMs at least, however in any other MMO there’d be issues humans can solve that computers can’t, making it quite dangerous to let everything run by itself.
The whole origin of the situation (and indirectly, Yui’s semi-death) was because of an internal conflict within the Army, leading to the stranding of its morally decent leader, Sinker. Our friend Kibaou is apparently still alive, and still represents the average jealous gamer who is going to go far to get what he wants. This time it’s the leadership of the Army given how big its gotten, but I wouldn’t have thought he’d be the kind of guy to strand his guild leader alone in a high-level dungeon so that he could rise up the ranks. He certainly wouldn’t have been able to beat the Fatal Scythe, whose battle lasted for a much shorter time than I had thought it would. It’s nice to see Kirito clearly outmatched for a second battle in recent times, and not have him pull out another secret technique that he could use to get out of his pinch. Instead, let’s allow Yui to take the glory this time, shall we?