Sword Art Online Episode 22: Emotional Trainwreck

“I was so happy you were being nice to me. I thought you were finally giving me a chance. But…if I’d known this would happen, I wish you’d kept being a jerk! If you had…I wouldn’t have realized I like you…or been sad to learn about Asuna-san…or tried to fall in love with Kirito-kun instead!”

Summary

Hearing Yui comment that Asuna’s player ID is above the clouds in Aarun, Kirito frantically tries to get past the barrier and up into the branches of the World Tree, but fails to do so. Even Yui doesn’t have the authority to bypass the barrier, but her voice manages to carry up into the skies and reaches Asuna’s cage, where she throws down the key card in the hope that Kirito will find it and put it to good use. After Yui confirms that the card belonged to Asuna, Kirito thanks Lyfa for all she has done, and heads to the World Tree to complete ALO’s Grand Quest. A tall column greets him, and as he flies up he meets winged Guardians who block his way – their numbers increase exponentially as he rises and Kirito dies, with his Remain Light rescued by Lyfa. When Kirito insists on trying again, Lyfa finally makes the connection and realizes that he is in fact her onii-chan.

Impression

*stands up and claps*

Wow. Just wow. I’ve actually been wondering throughout the series how they would end up animating this particular section (which is said to be one of the emotional climaxes of the show) and after sitting through that, I think I can still hear Sugu’s voice in my head, pouring out her feelings to a shocked Kirito. Taketatsu Ayana is such a great seiyuu – I tend to remember her more in romantic comedies or in tsundere roles, but she pulled off her role as a broken Sugu brilliantly here. Her words cut through my heart like a knife through butter, and continued stamping on it till I was as emotionally drained as Kirito was. Both this scene and Kirito’s World Tree attempt were highlights of the episode – which makes pretty much the entire episode a highlight, since that’s all they showed xD

“This is awful. This isn’t fair…it isn’t…”

I felt it was a powerful monologue Sugu gave even in the light novel, yet I’ve been humbled to learn that there are times when animation and voice acting really helps to deliver a scene. That face right when she made the connection – it was that completely shocked face that Lyfa had on that signalled the incoming shitstorm of emotions. That face tore into my soul and ripped it apart. Violently. Up until recently, all along Kirito has maintained his distance with Sugu, perhaps because he knows they’re not direct siblings as she suggested. For an imouto who has never really gotten to know her onii-chan and lost two years of being with him because of a death game, it’s understandable that Sugu was really happy once Kirito started being nice to her again – after he realized that he had taken her for granted in SAO and may never see her again, which may subconsciously had a hand in why he helped Silica all those episodes ago. Sugu thought it was a chance, and eventually fell in love with her onii-chan but kept her feelings to herself, watching from afar while realizing his heart belonged to someone else. That was bad enough – a true unrequited love really is painful for someone. Sugu’s admitting that she fell in love with Kirito to forget about it, but all along she must have realized that Kirito had something he was so intently focused on – which was Asuna. We’ve known it for ages as viewers, but for Sugu/Lyfa to learn that Kazuto/Kirito were the same person must have been such a cruel blow to her – and she’s right, it’s not fair. It’s not fair at all, but…that’s just the way it is. I suppose it shows the sincerity of Lyfa’s love, as she fell in love twice over with the same person based purely on his actions, not realizing who he actually was. At the same time it’s even more painful, because Kirito’s literally spent the whole of the ALO arc both within and outside Alfheim Online with Sugu, and Lyfa herself has gone through a lot of experiences with Kirito. For those who are full Asuna supporters and would burn the Kirito x Lyfa ship, there you have it – Kirito’s “I’m sorry” is pretty much akin to a rejection, though it’s been evident through his focused desire and constant visits to the hospital that his heart only belongs to one person.

“You who know not the heights of heaven…do you desire passage to the castle of the king?”

The first World Tree fight was also pretty epic in itself, and though it did hold its fair share of emotional glory it remains true that this SAO fight scene was secondary to the shit that went down with Lyfa. In a way, this fight scene embodies everything that Kirito has fought for this entire arc, getting through ALO and the many obstacles that stood in his way to achieve what he came here to do. No matter what his relationship with Lyfa was, those initial goodbyes with her were necessary – Kirito has something he has to do, and he has to achieve it at all costs. The significance of the battle represents the whole Grand Quest theme they displayed – it really is the final quest that ALO has to offer, and is symbolic with the challenger’s need to fly higher and higher, up through the heart of the world. At the same time, it represents impossibility and the futility that Kirito has to experience due to his limitations as a player – it’s impossible. That’s the truth of it. The sheer number of Guardians that spawned was overwhelming, and while not very powerful by themselves, as a collective group they have unbelievably high strengths due to sheer numbers. “The Computer is a Cheating Bastard” is the perfect trope to describe this (if you follow TV Tropes) and worst of all, Kirito was only past around halfway up the area. He’s been extremely cool throughout the story, but I have to admit it was a little cocky of him to say that “a game where you can’t die is too easy”. He admits it in the end – his in-game strength is nothing but skills and status effects, and is nothing at all in the face of the all-powerful system. The barrier is a perfect example of that. It’s a bit frustrating to see him fighting so hard to get past the barrier when it’s not physically possible to, as it’s something that’s not under his control. However, I think that even in a virtual reality, when a game stops being just a game, someone like Kirito can find true strength that he needs to achieve what he wants to.

I suppose that links into Asuna – like the keycard which Kirito now has, Asuna is the driving force that pushes Kirito on even in the face of really bad odds. The feels during that fight when his emotions for Asuna were filtered into everything…man, now you want to see Sugou drown in a sea of burning fire even more. Remember, he’s behind all of this – the impossible quest, capturing Asuna, everything. Well, everything except Lyfa, that is. I would love to say that Kirito will continue his attempt to scale the World Tree next episode…but first he has a few very painful domestic issues to sort out.

Vantage

I love cute things.

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14 Responses

  1. I’m glad that they finally figured out just who each other was in the real world. I’m hoping the next episode will be more of a conflict resolution episode and that this will bring them closer as siblings and be able to conquer the game together. Now that they have finally done this I can be less upset about the whole sibling love story and just anticipate the finally match between that evil scum Sugou and Kirito.

    Sugou is a legitimately terrifying and disturbing enemy. It will be good to see him go down!

    • Vantage says:

      Conflict resolution is definitely a great way to put it – as things stand, Sugu is emotionally worn out and Kirito is wallowing in regret. Can’t have these things hanging around before one challenges the World Tree xD

      The final stage is within reach now, only a couple more weeks to go! An ending is inevitable, but I don’t want this show to go… ;_;

  2. Eva says:

    Gahhh!!!! So many feels ;A; Kiritoooo Asunnaaa!!! ;A; /SOBS
    God damn it Kirito! DID YOU REALLY HAVE TO DUMP YOUR MONEY LIKE THAT LAST WEEK? *HEADESKS* As I watched this episode I was thinking to myself, “Well shit, he probably would’ve had a better chance making it if he had another sword on him like he had after he borrowed Lyfa’s during the Salamander fight last week!” It would be good if he could get his hands on another sword. Kirito is so badass when he duel wields.

    • Vantage says:

      Fear not, the money has been put to good use xD It might have looked like it was just to impress the two Lords, but it’ll make it’s use apparent soon. And perhaps he might have stood a better chance, but it still stands that the Guardians can use ranged attacks as well, and no matter how many swords you have it’s not realistic to block a load of broadswords being hurled at your chest. Definitely not a one-man quest…

    • Eva that was my friends reaction as well! Hahaha. Dual wielding is the best!

  3. Linzz says:

    It’s okay, Sugu…. Cry your heart out, girl. You don’t deserve Kitiro. He deserves Klein. Yes, he is gay so better move on. C’mere, Sugu let’s make yuri together. LMAO

    No shit, seriously this is what I was thinking the whole heart-to-heart talk with these cousins. HAHAHAHA

    • Vantage says:

      We need some Sugu x Silica yuri…or Lizbeth x Asuna…hahaha I’m just throwing around crack pairings now. But I pity Klein sometimes, Kirito gets all these girls and he’s not supposed to be the social type ^^

      All the while during that confrontation I alternated between “oh shit” and “…awkward silenceeee” while Sugu was catching her breath xD

  4. Arimpact says:

    So… love bewteen siblings isn’t ok but between cousins is? hm…

    Also Vantage, just want to say that I enjoy reading and agree with your general view on SAO more than any other blogger I saw so far. Keep up the good weekly posting. :)

    • Vantage says:

      I think it’s acceptable in Japan to have romance between cousins – it’s something treated as okay in various other cultures as well, so I’d say it depends on the perspective.

      Thank you very much! It’s great to get some positive feedback :)

  5. Train says:

    Aaaaand… the shitstorm hapenned.
    This week’s episode was so… INTENSE, i thought maybe my monitor was gonna explode at some point, and i couldn’t( nor wanted) to take my eyes off the monitor cause there was so many things happening.
    I really felt sorry for Sugu this episode, her face when she discovered Kirito was her brother showed she was kind of terrified. I feel sorry for both of them actually, i mean, it is not like it is anyone’s fault, but Sugu must have felt really hurt after realizing that, and Kirito, must have felt regret for acting the way he did pre-SAO, and at the same time sad for her, because he couldn’t answer her feelings, as he truly loves Asuna. Hope they can patch things up in the next episode…

    On the fight scene( dat OST, really awesome), Kirito seemed like he snapped again in some point, didn’t he? Anyway, at the beginning i didn’t think he would make it, but then again, he seemed to, at least almost, overcome the system’s limits(yet again) when he was about to die or was it just me? The whole fight scene got so emotional when he had those flashbacks of Asuna and his fights on SAO, too bad the game’s creators made it so no one would get past that. And really, those hundred guardians were HALF of it? For everything Sugou made Asuna,Kirito and Yui go through i really will be glad to see his ass kicked soon.

    I share this doubt with Eva, on why he didn’t buy a second sword yet if Dual Wielding is free in ALO and he is clearly more OP when he does. Another thing, is it really gonna end in two more weeks?Seems like it will be kind of rushed if it does…( i also don’t want SAO to end ;;).

    • Vantage says:

      The intensity…was OVER 9000! *ducks*

      I think it would lose lots of meaning if he made it past the Guardians on his first go. They made it pretty clear that there were clear boundaries Kirito could not overstep as a gamer in his position, and in that chamber he was a gamer, despite his primary motive being to save Asuna – it’s when the game stops being a game completely and shit actually gets real that one might muster up the willpower to overcome the system’s limits and step pass those boundaries. Or it might just be used as a deus ex machina hahaha xD

      That first attempt Kirito made was in desperation after having the first piece of proof that Asuna is in ALO – remember, all along he’s gone only by a user-taken photo of what may or may not be Asuna’s figure. If he’d rationally stopped to think, he would probably have decided to buy a second sword in order to use Dual Blades.

      It’ll end in three more weeks, at 25 episodes xD I’m assuming it won’t be rushed, as my estimations of the adaptation leaves one whole episode for an epilogue – hopefully it won’t be like AW where they just slap an ending onto the aftermath of the final fight. I don’t want SAO to end either ); We may get the 3rd arc, the GGO arc animated as a single cour series sometime in the future though, so it’s always a possibility.

      • Train says:

        *Scouter explodes* Dat dbz quote, hahaha, but in fact it was true.
        Yeah, it will probably have more meaning after all those thoughts he had when he was in “respawn time”, those were really emotional, for me at least, seeing he think of how powerless as a player he was at that chamber(although that is completely not true).
        Well, he had limitations as a gamer in that chamber, but as did he when he faced Heathcliff, and used his willpower to overcome his instant death and bring Heathcliff down with him. Many would call it an ex machina, but he has done it twice already(and counting, xD), so it is probably his willpower to save his true love. And i totally agree with you, the game,at least for Kirito, stopped being a game( as was with SAO) the moment he knew for sure Asuna was trapped in the game, so i think he will really find the willpower to overcome the system’s limits again :D

        And yeah, i really forgot he wasn’t sure whether Asuna was in ALO or not, as for us, viewers, that was already a fact. Oh well, maybe now that he has the time to think things through he will probably realize that.
        Oh, better, :D! I thought it would end in 24 episodes. Hopefully, we will get the 3rd arc animated, as well as all of the novel xD.Btw, did you see? Volume 11 is coming this december, or so i heard.

        PS: Quoting you: “The Computer is a Cheating Bastard”. He may be, but Kirito is still a cheater/beater. hahaha

        • Vantage says:

          Yup – Vol 11, “Alicization Turning” is apparently releasing sometime this December xD I actually haven’t even started Alicization Running yet =/ Might do so this Winter break, during those few days where the Fall season ends but the Winter season has yet to kick off, because of Christmas and the New Year and all that.

  6. Arimpact says:

    Everything about this ep was just amazing. The music in SAO is probably one of the best fitting music I’ve heard in an action anime. It brings out the scene’s emotions perfectly yet the does not over take the viewer’s focus. The drama, Ayana Taketasu’s voice acting (I’d really like to see her in more main roles after this, I hope she get that chance). For me probably the trophy goes to animation though. The detail of the bottom of the world tree was awesome in the beginning. Even more, the amount of individual moving objects and background detail during the fight is not something you see that often at all.

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