Sword Art Online Episode 21: Broken Heart

“I’m in love with onii-chan. But I can’t share those feelings. I have to bury them deep in my heart, so that I can forget them someday.”


Kirito and Lyfa have made it to the capital Aarun, where the entrance to the World Tree awaits – however as it is night time, they choose to find an inn and log out, continuing with their journey the next day. In the real world, Kazuto and Suguha visit Asuna in hospital, and Sugu acknowledges her love for her onii-chan, realizing that he is much farther away from her heart than she would like him to be. Up in the World Tree, Asuna manages to escape her bird cage and manages to make it to a system console; a room which also contains the captives Sugou is holding from SAO.


As soon as Suguha saw his face –
“Ugh…”A scathing pain pierced deep into her chest. What kind of eyes were those, she thought. They were the eyes of a traveller that sought his eternally fated partner… No matter how long it took, in this life or the next, no matter how many times he was reincarnated. Eyes filled with such a gentle, calm light, containing within them a crazed feeling of love. At that moment, Suguha knew what her heart truly wanted, and at the same time, she understood that she would never be able to reach it.
– Vol 4, Fairy Dance 

Whew, mixed feelings, mixed feelings. I actually took a bit of time thinking back on the Aincrad arc straight after watching the ep, and realized how different everything was – how priorities have changed, and how there are different, but no less significant problems that the characters have to deal with both in ALO and in real life. And one of them is the ever-evolving relationship between Kazuto/Kirito and Suguha/Lyfa. Sugu as an imouto is much closer to Kirito than she was before the SAO incident – it took two years of Kirito being trapped in SAO for Sugu to really treasure her time with her onii-chan now that he’s been released. That’s why it was so painful for Sugu to visit the hospital with Kirito, because like the LN suggests, she’s being shown the barrier that stands between her and her brother – she’s being given a clear indication that her love is unrequited, and that Kirito has eyes only for Asuna. She’s so close, yet so far at the same time, and the proof is right in front of her.

At the same time though, Sugu is now very sure of her feelings, and while she can’t love her onii-chan Kazuto, the Sylph Lyfa will instead open up to the swordsman Kirito. Oh, the irony. I don’t know the extent to which Lyfa is using in-game Kirito as a replacement for her unrequited love for Kazuto, as Lyfa does seem to show a genuine interest in Kirito, and trusts him enough to break unspoken etiquette of not bringing RL problems to the virtual world. Kirito has also been his natural self throughout the arc, and similar actions back in SAO has landed him the love of various other girls in the past. It’s just that this time the affections he’s gathered have more consequences than he’d expect, and I’m both looking forward to and dreading the tense time when Lyfa is mercilessly run over by a truck full of emotions.

Remember I said that I would hate nearly every single time Asuna appears in this arc? Well, I stand by my words. I knew her escape attempt would fail, but that didn’t make it any less tense – the long white corridor as well as the dramatic music racked up the suspense with every step Asuna took, and it was just really unfortunate that she decided to hang around for longer than she should have by looking over the human experiments Sugou was conducting. I suppose this is the “truth of Alfheim” the title is referring to – the confirmation that Sugou is mentally torturing people in their dreams and recording the limits of their negative emotions so he can control them in the future. I don’t know which is worse – the idea of the experiment itself, or that he has willing accomplices to help him, in the form of huge purple slugs that I think are actually humans. What a great sense of humour this guy has. After not seeing her freely move about for so long, Asuna was especially cute up until the slugs took their tentacles out, riiiight as she was about to log out. It was just me gritting my teeth and hoping that they would put her down without raping her after that, but I’m sure the tentacle fanservice will be the topic of discussion if you’re into that sort of thing. To be honest, she would have made it if she hadn’t decided to run straight towards the system console and had hidden behind the cylinders, or even waited for the slugs to leave – but at least she has the key card, which will definitely be useful in the near future.

So Kirito and Lyfa have now reached the city at the heart of the world – which does look really amazing, with its huge towers and buildings. It’s population is diverse too, and there are players of various races all mingling with no sense of the usual race aggression or wariness that we’ve seen so far, mostly between the Sylphs and Salamanders. Yui has managed to locate Asuna’s presence high up above the clouds, and you can tell by Kirito’s look that he’s not going to waste any more time and work straight towards rescuing her now. Overall, I liked how the episode jumped back and forth between the tension with Asuna and the real world life of Kirito and Lyfa – but my main question is why an entire section of the LN, the underground ice field Jötunheimr was skipped. Was it an issue of time constraints in order to fit within the 25 episode limit? I don’t know if we’ll get it as a part of the BD extras (similar to how Saber vs Berserker was cut out in Fate/Zero, but was part of the BD) but they can probably justify their reasons for it. It’s not exactly an important part of the ALO arc – it’s true that a side story (Caliber SS) later on features Jötunheimr, but I would have still liked to see the evil-gods, Tonkii as well as the battle between Kirito and the veteran hunting party of Undines. Or if the story structure didn’t leave much time for Jötunheimr at all, maybe I should be happy it was cut out, as it would have almost certainly been rushed?


I love cute things.

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8 Responses

  1. See I get pissed off whenever the Sugou shows up lol. Asuna was so awesome in the previous game and even on her own she’s still very capable. Sugou should play out a sister role and not a love interest.

    • Wanderer says:

      Errr, you mean Sugu, not Sugou. They’re different people. Sugu is the sister. Sugou is the guy people want to make a voodoo doll for or have a photo the center of a dart board.

      I do have to admit Kirito’s talent at getting attention of the opposite gender… Klein, on the other hand, cough… Must be that face of his (Klein).

    • Vantage says:

      Yeah, it’s understandable that you’d be pissed at the main heroine change from Asuna to Lyfa, and I’m sure many others are too. However, if it makes you feel better, Kirito has no romantic interest in Sugu, and all his struggles in this whole arc is for the sole purpose of saving Asuna and reuniting with his love. Sugu’s a love interest, but thankfully she’s an unrequited love interest xD

  2. burizulu says:

    I can’t ever see why people get upset with Sugu’s role, as if she’s a threat to Kirito and Asuna’s relationship. If anything, this episode should just go to show that Sugu has no chance; Kirito only has eyes for Asuna. Look at all he’s doing for her in game. I personally like Suguha. Kirito helps her find herself, just like he’ll help Sinon in GGO.

    I thought it was most interesting how they cut out the whole first chapter of volume 4. Upon consideration, I can see that they can skip that part and revisit it when they go to animate Caliber from volume 8. I can’t express how much I’d love to see Caliber animated.

    • Vantage says:

      It’s possible that they’d shift the events to have them save Tonkii at the start of Caliber instead, and progress from there – the SS would fit really well as an OVA series, or perhaps as part of a second season of the show with GGO and Caliber animated into one cour. If they do decide to work this way, then it’d be infinitely better than having it as a skimmed part of the ALO arc when it’s actually an intricate field that deserves time taken over it.

    • I am upset because it’s not screen time for Asuna + Kirito. It’s just another ploy and I just want to see them together and happy. I know she’s no match for Asuna and she even knows that herself. I just think it’s a weird combination and even the 1/3 of screen time they focus on it it’s just taking away from something so much more important.

      I legitimately feel creeped out, and angry when they cut to Asuna because of the situation she is in. When they cut to Kirito and his sister/cousin Sugu (I got it right that time haha) I feel bored or annoyed.

      This week should be much more interesting though. I’m looking forward to it.

  3. shiizumi says:

    Oh. I’m upset that they skipped the Jötunheimr field. When I watched the episode I was like “WHAAT? WHY DID YOU SKIPPED IT?” and went on ranting about it on twitter. Gosh how disappointed I am.

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