Kirigaya is adjusting to his life outside of the game, but he hasn’t forgotten about Asuna. A recent visit to her in the hospital, he meets Sugou Nobuyuki. | A new MMO allows users to fly and encourages player killing. Kirito has joined this new game in search of Asuna and is pleasantly surprised with what he finds. (Source: Crunchyroll)
Spoiler warning: Post contains spoilers up to episode 16, "Land of the Fairies".
What is reality? How can we say that our lives in the digital, virtual reality is less real than in 'reality' when those in the VR have fallen in love, created families, started new lives? This is a dilemma that has haunted the Aincrad world since the beginning, especially since many members initially started out to break free from SAO and Akihiko's maniacal grips. Now that Kirito is outside of SAO and returning to the other world, the 'reality' of his old life, how can he be expected to forget the years spent inside Aincrad?
Stuck between two worlds, Kirito may have to do the unthinkable to take back the life he had made for himself in the digital walls of SAO: jump back into the ever-expanding 'verse of MMOs, for love and for family. For the second time in his life, Kirito must become the hero - only now it's for someone else's life, not his own.
Two months after beating Sword Art Online and the disintegration of Aincrad as well as the release of its players, not everything is as bright as happy as it should be. Asuna has not opened her eyes. She still sleeps, kept alive by machines, still in the Nerve Gear that has imprisoned her for several years. Oh, and a creepy pervert in a business suit is scheming to marry her unconscious form, all with the blessings of Asuna's family. At least she's alive?
Kirito's new mission is to save Asuna - and apparently, the only way to save Asuna is to go back into the game and retrieve her. No, not Sword Art Online, but a game with the same servers and basis of game play. Welcome to Alfheim Online, where everyone is an elf and can fly! Basically, where SAO players were limited to swordplay, ALO players can now use magic and propel themselves through the air, although not for a long time. And in the middle of Alfheim, our heroine is being held captive by the very slime ball intent on wedding her physical and very much comatose form.
For Kirito, the only woman who can take hold of his heart is Asuna - much to the consternation of his cousin, Suguha. She, who sat by Kirito's side during the two years he was trapped in the game, has realized far too late that her feelings for her dark-haired cousin aren't familial but romantic. It's a cop-out to have Kirito to be adopted, and it certainly doesn't help that Kirito sees Suguha as a sister, not a potential lover. Can Suguha be a realistic romantic option if she's never seen as one? I have a feeling Suguha's feelings will be pushed further into the narrative as Kirito's quest proceeds.
The character that is Asuna's creepy fiance isn't new. I've seen Sugou's type before - and it was in Accel World, which figures since both series' light novels are written by the same person. Seiji Noumi, anyone? A Burst Linker, he abused his acceleration abilities to succeed at kendo and manipulate Chiyuri, keeping her from her friends and using her BL abilities to keep him healed during fights. He abused Chiyuri's bodily autonomy, being an outright lecher at times with her body, in the same way Sugou has with Asuna's prone form.
Sugou is prime fodder for Kirito to get angry and get back into gaming, but beyond that he has no depth and what little motivation he has is only self-serving and selfish. I kinda hope we don't see Sugou for a while as his character genuinely creeps me out, much in the same with Seiji in Accel World did. Is Sugou a part of ALO as well? I wouldn't put it past him to be a character that guards the building Asuna is being kept in, the only one who gets to see Asuna's elven avatar up close.
The world of Alfheim Online has barely been introduced and already we as viewers have been pulled into a maelstrom of drama. Barely any time passes between when Kirito first enters ALO and when he starts his hero routine, rescuing another player from a band of armored players demanding money and items. Even though he may resent the title of 'hero', he slips into that role quiet easily. He even comes into ALO with his old handle of Kirito, knowing full well that he is well known as being the player who saved the surviving Aincrad players. Kirito is going to save Asuna, yes, but in the process he'll probably make it his duty to solve the rest of Alfheim's issues.
(Also, shallow note: Kirito looks absolutely adorable with pointy ears!)
I think the best aspect of ALO so far is the Navigation Pixie, who aids players and leads them through the Alfheim world. This is not because Navigation Pixies are awesome by any stretch - I've rather been burnt out on the concept of 'magical helper pixie' thanks to a certain Legend of Zelda game - but this one is worth it because it brings back everyone's favorite glitched AI turned adopted daughter, Yui. Kirito and Yui's relationship in Alfheim is incredibly sweet and I take back everything I said about Yui before because she truly makes Kirito happy and further reminds him that his love and in-game wife needs rescuing. Onwards, Aincrad soldier!
Here is my prediction for the upcoming episodes! Kirito will get involved in the personal drama of the two Sylph players he ended up helping, pushing aside his goal of saving Asuna for a few days. Suguha will wrestle with her feelings concerning Kirito and will do several stupid things that will only serve to confuse Kirito and fuel her self-doubts. The slimy Sugou will do something that will force Kirito's plan and move up his rescue efforts. Yui will continue to be adorable. Now, watch Sword Art Online absolutely crush at least one of these predictions!