Kirito and Asuna get married and are granted a leave of absence from the KBO. They buy a cabin on Floor 22 and relax and goof off. One day they find a small girl they initially mistake for a ghost until she passes out. The next morning she wakes up, identifies herself as Yui, and refers to them as her parents. They travel to the Town of Beginnings to try to find her family, and end up saving a group of kids and their guardian, Sasha, from a gang of Liberation Army soldiers. Afterwards, Yui looks to the sky and passes out again.
Kirito and Asuna get the marriage out of the way, having already pre-consummated.
Garfield Heathcliff grants them leave, but not indefinitely, and they enjoy a peaceful honeymoon down on picturesque Floor 22. They choose to have two separate beds – one of them must get the jimmy legs at night! – and while Kirito is asleep Asuna finally professes her love for him and wish that they’ll be together forever. Then he wakes up, but is too woozy to have heard. What we don’t get is, why is she embarassed? They’re married, for crying out loud. I know there are loveless marriages, but this isn’t one of them. If they’re going to commit to this extent, you’d think they wouldn’t be so timid about expressing their feelings, especially considering how fearless they are in other situations.
Anyway, the sister of the girl from Kami-sama no Memo-cho shows up out of the blue (while Kirito’s taking advantage of Asuna’s phasmophobia), and when she woke up, essentially a tabula rasa who calls them Mama and Papa, we could help but wonder – is this how kids are born in SAO? I mean, Kirito and Asuna did do it, and many real-life activities are simplified (which also makes us wonder how quick and boring virtual sex would be…), perhaps this Yui girl is their offspring. Her appearance, after all, vaguely mirrors and amalgam of Kirito and Asuna. Of course, this is just speculation; it’s entirely likely Yui isn’t really related to them, but the fact that something happened with her that caused the whole game to shudder, she’s probably important, whoever she is.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
P.S. Asuna’s little ass-kicking session was great; we’re glad the Army thugs didn’t yell “This isn’t over!” while turning tail (for once).
Fujishima notices Taichi and Inaba with small children who look suspiciously like Aoki, Iori, and Yui. Flash back to the end of the second term, when a cryptic message on the board lists everyone’s name but Taichi’s and the time “12pm- 5pm”. During that time, between two and three club members revert to a younger age, complete with their personalities at the time. Heartseed, inhabiting Taichi’s sister, tells him only he won’t change, and he’s responsible for the others, but can’t tell anyone, or it will never end.
Wait…what? What is this? Kokoro Connect puts its characters through another phenomenon experienced by those in Natsuiro Kiseki; namely, Baby Mode. Once we got past the audacity of this, it actually wasn’t that bad. It’s also a different situation from the Natsuiro gals in many ways: Inaba & Co. didn’t wish for this, it just started happening out of the blue, as a new, second Heartseed starts to put them through the wringer, and assigned Taichi as their “knight”. Also, Aoki, Yui, Inaba and Iori aren’t just shrinking – they are literally re-wound to the age they look.
This leads them to ask Taichi very deep questions, since whenever they return to their normal age at 5pm they retain some memories from that age; memories they’d forgotten. Iori, for one, would like to redo her life if given the chance, while Aoki, remembering a lost love (who resembles Yui), asks him what it is to truly love someone. Yui forgets a promise she made to a karate rival, while a young Inaba is painfully shy. Meanwhile, Inaba and Iori’s friendly rivalry is in full swing, and it’s very fun watching them bounce off each other and Taichi. His primary challenge is keeping Heartseed’s plans a secret from his friends, while keeping his friends’ condition secret from the rest of the world…or else.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
The night of the duel, Chiyu accompanies Taku to Haru’s place. She was told to tell them she’d betray Nomi so they’d take her to the no-limits stage, where she’d then heal Nomi. But she begs them to take her anyway; they agree and jump into the Moonlit stage, where Nomi’s waiting. When Haru rushes him, he’s ambushed by Nomi’s ally Black Vice, while Nomi fights Taku. Haru briefly falls into Zero Fill, but thoughts of Hime pull him out and free him from the vice. Just when Nomi is about to kill Taku, his arm is torn off by a long-range attack by none other than Hime, who has arrived to take on Black Vice while letting Haru finish things with Nomi.
In planning for their sudden death duel with Nomi Seiji, Haru should have known that he was planning to tip the scales in his favor with some form of treachery. The words “fair” and “honest” have no meaning for him, but still, ever the hothead, Haru just rushes in alone with no plan except “Take this!” Oh well…maybe now he’s finally learned. This week we find out what makes Nomi tick with some in-fight exposition. You see, Nomi treats people like tools or disposable garbage because that’s how his big brother treated him. Eventually, everything he gained in Brain Burst was stolen from him, and he devoted himself to taking it all back and banishing his bro from the game. He succeeded, but only by becoming the very person he detested most.
Learning this about Nomi is obviously an attempt to humanize him somewhat, but considering everything he’s done since enduring the pain his brother cost him has revolved around purging himself of all capacity for human mercy or thought for others, it’s a tough sell; we still hate the little bastard. He calls the gang’s friendships “illusions”, while ironically depending on an (admittedly cool-looking) ally to help him contain Haru. Things go badly for the good guys, and it takes Hime literally riding in on her black horse to even the odds, while not doing all the work. Now, barring a few more tricks by Nomi – or perhaps he’s fresh out – Haru is free to take him on mano-a-mano. The final episode should be suitibly replete with sparks, explosions, yelling, and tears. But really…do we have any doubt who’s coming out on top?
Rating: 6 (Good)