Sword Art Online Episode 18: To the World Tree!
“But why do they want to tie each other down like that? We all have these wings…”
As Sugu ponders on her situation in ALO and her new companion, she informs Recon that she’ll be leaving their regular party and heading to the World Tree with Kirito instead. After taking Kirito weapon shopping, a Sylph named Sigurd confronts her on her decision and on impulse she decides to become a renegade and leave Sylph territory. After the two take off and pause at a forest clearing in order to take turns logging out, a group of Salamanders reveal themselves to have marked them with a tracer, and are tracking their movements.
Ahhh, much development was seen tonight. Not much literal fighting, but it’s easy to tell that things are beginning to brew under the surface and may eventually explode into conflict in the future – most notably with the very stern Sylph Sigurd, who I never actually imagined to look like that at all. Anyway, he’s got a really imposing figure with an air of authority around him, maybe even bordering on superiority though it’s nothing compared to the standards of someone like Sugou. Even so, I wouldn’t call him a very likeable person either – his authority is to the point that he’s very controlling of the members he parties with, and despite saying that they can leave of their own volition if they wish, it’s clear that he won’t be happy if random Sylphs just come and go as they like. He’s the kind of guy that’ll now badmouth Lyfa because she’s inconvenienced him, especially as he has the excuse that she ran off with a Spriggan.
The internal politics between different species as well as within one species itself is pretty harsh, especially for a game – probably enhanced as it’s a VR game, where everything is taken to the next level. Relations between species aren’t all that great (we have Salamanders out attacking Sylphs), territories are closely guarded and rules are imposed between species – I suppose it’s natural for such things to be present within an MMORPG, but as Lyfa said, it’s ironic that everyone has wings yet are tied down so strictly to a certain area. Lyfa herself has never been beyond that forest clearing they’re in now, and I’m sure that’s because she has a duty as a Sylph to stay within their territory and serve them to the best of their ability. As Yui (who is as kawaii as ever) said, even as an AI designed to monitor human psychology she can’t really get why people like Sigurd want to “own” players like Lyfa, and “equip” them all the time. It reminds me of Silica in SAO actually, when loads of people wanted to party with her merely because of her popular status, and so she was seen as a “trophy” player that people coveted.
Time to talk about Sugu…who is also Lyfa, which they constantly reminded us of this episode. Sugu might have actually pieced a bit of the puzzle together concerning Kirito’s identity had she actually gone into his room and saw him using his Nerve Gear, but she just had to steel herself and not open his door. Kirito mentioning that his “family left some food for him” may have triggered something, but it’s hilarious to think that the empty avatar the other person was guarding actually belonged to their sibling in the very next room. I don’t know if they mentioned it directly in the anime, but it’s kinda an unspoken taboo to mix someone’s VR life with their real life, which is why the connection between Lyfa and Kirito hasn’t been explored yet – it’s also why Sugu got mad when Recon called her Lyfa while at school. Of course, Recon likes Lyfa, while she’s being all tsundere towards Kirito as of now, the phrase “it’s not that I’m in love with him or anything” being a sure trigger that yes, she is in fact in denial. While Sugu may have only entered the VR world in the first place to see the kind of environment her onii-chan loved, I’m happy that she’s grown to love it herself and enjoys her time there. Also, I’m grateful for all the continuous Sugu fanservice. A bit of censorship, but it’s great, and I’m thankful.
Because…you know, all the scenes with Asuna in it don’t count as fanservice to me, no matter how provocatively she’s been dressed up – because it’s all fucking Sugou, Sugou, Sugou. Oh dear god, it seems last week wasn’t enough. It didn’t help that the scene started with a close-up of the bastard’s grinning face either, on a bed with Asuna. On a bed. Excuse me while I go crash the Earth into the Sun. On the other hand, while it’s evil of Sugou to throw Kirito’s name and the whole idea of sending a wedding invitation into Asuna’s face, it did the exact opposite and gave her hope instead – since she was transferred straight from SAO into ALO, she has no idea whether Kayaba’s honoured his promise or not and really released everyone else back into the real world. Hearing that Kirito is alive and knows of her situation must really be uplifting for her, as well as her finally obtaining the password to her cell through her bedside mirror. What they didn’t explain was that ALO has a mechanism where it’s harder to focus on details further away because it gets blurry – simulating real life’s distance effect. This doesn’t apply to the mirror for some strange reason, and so Asuna can look into the mirror and view a reflection of everything as if it’s right behind her – and this includes the clarity of the padlock, and Sugou’s finger movements.
Time for shit to go down next week! A high-level tracer has indeed been placed on Lyfa and Kirito, and it’s time for a group of shady Salamanders to make their move.