Sword Art Online – 05

While having dinner in a town and safe zone, Kirito and Asuna come across a crime scene when a player is killed by a spear while being hanged. Asuna insists they investigate the matter. One of the witnesses, Yoruko, knew the vicitim – Kains – from her guild. Kirito has the weapon appraised by Egil, who determines it’s a custom job made by one Grimrock. They return to Yoruko with this info, and she tells them he’s the husband of their guild leader, who was killed while on a mission to sell a rare ring won in a battle. Three of the eight voted against selling: Kains, Yoruko, and Schmidt. While sitting next to a window dreading her fate, Yoruko too is stabbed by a dagger that comes out of nowhere. She falls out the window and dies.

Though we’re not sure about MMORPGs (we’ve never played one) the side quest is an integral part of all the RPGs we’ve played. While not necessary to the main storyline, side quests can take up most of a game. This week, Kirito and Asuna go on a side quest: a detective story. Sure, they could forget about the strange murder mystery and return to the front lines, but they want to find out how someone managed to kill somone else in a “safe zone”. Kirito notes that the rules of SAO are relatively fair, so it must’ve taken some doing to make it happen not once, but twice – and potentially thrice.

The OP is quickly filling up with faces of characters who only last an episode, and the ill-fated Yoruko is one of them. She waited a day to reveal the whole story to Kirito and Asuna, and in doing so prevented them from potentially solving the case in time to save her. We don’t have high hopes for Schmidt surviving the next episode either. But if someone can kill with impugnity in safe zones, they have to be stopped. Both Kirito and Asuna are on the same page when it comes to justice. We liked how Kirito made Asuna stop and smell the roses. If nothing else, this side quest has brought the two back together, and they seem to make a good team.

Rating: 6 (Good)

Kokoro Connect – 05

Inaba gathers Taichi and Iori to watch Aoki confess to Yui and ask her out, in an effort to put a jolt into their progress. It seemingly works, as Iori confronts Taichi while pretending to have swapped with Inaba. Taichi chases Iori down, reinforces his belief that she has her own personality, then tells her he loves her and asks her own. A moment later, Iori is taken over by Heartseed, who says they’re too boring, and throws Iori off the bridge.

At the hospital, Iori is in the ICU, and Heartseed returns as Mr. Go. He tells them she will die, but they have thirty minutes to decide whose personality will die with her body. Taichi volunteers himself, but Aoki believes Iori should die in her body. They discuss it with Iori, who agrees with Aoki, then switches from body to body saying goodbyes, telling Taichi she loves him too and they kiss (while she’s in Inaba’s body). She delivers her decision to Heartseed, but instead of dying, she makes a full recovery. Heartseed never meant to kill anyone. The body swapping ceases.

One of the trademarks of a great anime is making you totally forget you’re watching two-dimensional approximations of people voiced over by people in soundproof booths, and truly breathing life and vitality into the characters. After a rough start, Kokoro Connect is proving adept at this, turning in another emotional powerhouse. With a title like “A Confession and Death…” we knew what we’d be getting, but that ellipsis opened the possibility that the episode wouldn’t be that literal, and it wasn’t: we get two confessions and no death. Though at times, we must confess we thought they may actually kill Iori off. Turns out Heartseed is more curiously cruel than pure evil (he even thinks to safeguard her phone by tossing it to Taichi before throwing her off a bridge. How considerate!)

Prior to the game, we liked how one confession spurred on another, with Inaba apparently happy to be the yenta in the middle. We liked the dangerous trick Iori played on Taichi, proving her chameleon skills, but even better was Taichi’s spirited rebuttal of Iori’s misgivings, and his sudden but welcome confession. We’ll admit to getting into the drama; Iori and Taichi’s talk leading up to their “first/last kiss” got us right there (kudos to Miyuki Sawashiro for really channelling Iori), and we pumped our fists when the doctor cracked a grin, despite the fact we knew this was probably all a game/test.

Rating: 9 (Superior)