Sword Art Online Episode 23: Overfly
“”Fly. Fly forever…keep flying through the sky…to the heart of the world!”
After agreeing to meet Kirito in Aarun once more within ALO, Lyfa meets Recon, who had been following her from Sylvain and had wanted to confess to her. She decides to settle things with Kirito via a duel, however at the last moment they both throw their swords away and apologize instead, with Kirito asking Lyfa to wait until he achieved what he originally came to do in ALO. Deciding to challenge the World Tree again with Kirito, Lyfa enlists Recon’s help and begins ALO’s Grand Quest, facing off against an impossible number of Guardians standing in their way.
Oh my god, the feels…I can’t take this guys, I don’t even know what to say! Everything’s a jumble in my head after that, and while I think I should start somewhere, I can’t quite place where that should be. Okay okay, deep breaths. Going chronologically shouldn’t hurt, so let’s start from the top.
First of all, the family issues that remained from last week’s heartbreak eventually sorted themselves out in this episode – and it’s not only Sugu that suffered from knowing Kirito wasn’t truly her brother. As Kirito himself said, him finding out about his identity and his true parents would have already distanced himself from his aunt and uncle, and this would have had a larger effect due to Kirito being at an earlier age at the time, which would have made him more impressionable. Net gaming was the therefore the answer to Kirito who didn’t know where he fitted into his makeshift family – he instead went to a place where no-one knew anyone else and you forged your own identity. Similar to how you are the sum of your experiences, who a person is in your mind is their real identity, despite the world you’re currently in. It applies to other concepts as well – take SAO for example. People understand and process the real world using signals received by the brain. Online games allow you to log out to leave a world, and if you die it’s just temporary. But what if there was a world that you process using brain signals, where you can’t log out and die if you get killed? Wouldn’t that define reality as well?
And the image Sugu/Lyfa has formed of Kirito is that of a swordsman who has stayed strong against impossible odds, to fight for what he wanted to achieve. I think she was actually going to head back and leave Kirito in Aarun before Recon showed up – who, let’s be honest, is a bit of a dope. Despite his failed confession, he had an optimistic outlook even though Lyfa wasn’t exactly receptive of his feelings, which is something Lyfa could learn from. The way she decided to resolve things was fine by me, except there weren’t too many emotions as I would have expected,
since they were saving it for the second half of the episode xD Both ended up feeling pretty guilty and apologetic, and throwing away their swords was a really sweet thing to do! Their willingness to accept the other’s pent-up emotion through a sword blow proved their sincerity to each other – notice how the position where both swords fell was a mimicked X-shape of Elucidator and Lambent Light from LiSA’s crossing field OP.
She was unable to see Kirito’s figure due to the wall of guardians, but reflected in the eye of Lyfa’s heart, rose the figure aiming for the place that no one had ever reached, rising higher and higher.
Much like how the stream of outbursts at the end of last episode were emotionally superior to the battle scene, this episode had it completely reversed – Kirito’s second attempt at scaling the World Tree was truly the definition of badass. Everything about the entire battle was a torrent of emotions that kept fluctuating up and down, and the way it was presented made me feel like I was experiencing that battle myself – even while knowing what was going to happen. When they despaired, I despaired, and I’m sure at the end, when Lyfa was cheering Kirito on, everyone watching it joined her as well. Don’t lie xD Imo there’s something epic to be gained from watching an overwhelming victory, but it’s another thing entirely to watch someone fail, not lose hope, and come back stronger to win and conquer instead. It’s pretty cliché, but it’s in conjunction with the music, Kirito’s character and everything he set out to achieve when he went into ALO – to rescue the caged princess from the evil king sitting on his throne high in the clouds. Everyone pitched in to help – Recon and his self-destruction dark magic, Sakuya and Alicia Rue’s forces (their equipment is what the money ended up paying for) and most importantly, Lyfa. That moment when she threw her katana to her onii-chan to let him use Dual Blades was really symbolic, and I’d like to think that what got Kirito up past the Guardians was their combined power, doing what is meant to be impossible in the world of ALO. Admittedly it was a bit OTT though. Kirito, blasting through at the speed of light! xDD
Last episode’s number of Guardians had nothing on this week. Last week already had far too many – even Yui mentioned that the quest’s completion was not designed to be possible because of it. The LN described their spawning rate as exponential with the distance you were to the top of the dome – 12 of them appear per second once you’re near the top. For one guy to challenge them all is suicide, which is what happened the first time Kirito tried. The Guardians apparently also target those who aren’t directly attacking if they deem them to be a threat – like healers who stay back, which makes a common tactic of group boss battles in MMORPGs useless. Personally, without aid from the Sylphs and the Cait Sith, it’s likely that Kirito, Lyfa and Recon would have failed purely because of the sheer number of Guardians – as Kirito got closer, the animators stopped bothering to draw each individual one and they looked like a swarm of flies rather than an enemy.
Even if someone did get past, players were never intended to be able to open the dome’s door in the first place – it’s locked by the system, and so it’s an impossible quest. Of course, by now we know that there’s no such thing as a city in the sky above the branches of the World Tree – it’s just modern white hallways in a building and a few branches, because ALO is only an MMO on the surface, with its true purpose being to conduct human experimentation on SAO survivors, as well as keep Asuna in check. Without that keycard that Asuna dropped down (or Yui, who processed it) Kirito’s journey would have just stopped there, and he’d have failed. Even so, this is only a small victory for him in the grand scale of things – his own “grand quest” is about to reach its climax in next week’s much-anticipated confrontation with Sugou, where everything in this show will finally come full circle.
Fly – Go – Go anywhere! Through the giant tree, soar through the sky, to the heart of the world -!