Kirito saves Lyfa from the Salamanders, and she thanks him by teaching him how to fly and buying him a drink. He tells her it’s imperative he get to the World Tree as soon as possible. She grudgingly agrees to accompany him before she logs out and is revealed to be Sugu. Kirito promises Yui he’ll get Asuna back, then falls asleep and logs out as well. Up in the World Tree, Asuna is being held captive by Sugou, AKA the Fairy King Oberon, who calls her Queen Titania. He insists she fall in love with him soon. He also tells her about using 300 SAO players including her and the 10,000 AFO users for secret research into implanting artificial thoughts, emotions and memories.
We can say with confidence if we met someone speaking in the same voice as our little sister, even if she looked totally different, we’d ask if she was our little sister in real life…but that’s just us. As for Sugu, we were expecting her to run over to her brother in the next room, but while Kirito seemed to give her a similar vibe, it seems she hasn’t made the connection yet. So we have a brother and a sister (really cousin!) who likes him, oblivious to who the other one really is, headed to the World Tree to try to climb it – something that hasn’t been done before. There’s a good reason for that: the conditions for clearing the game may not be possible. Only one race can win, but the final quest may require cooperation between races, which will probably never happen considering one would be sacrificial.
Also, no one knows the nature of the quest itself, and there’s a good reason for that too: Sugou Nobuyuki, AKA “Fairy King Oberon”, is using the players of ALfeim Online for clandestine human experimentation, and it behooves him to delay the clearing of the game. Sugou cements his place as the slimiest, Evilest Evil-With-A-Capital-E Bad Guy of the series, who wants Asuna whether she wants him or not. Asuna puts up a brave front, but her horror is palpable as he paws her and explains exactly how he could wipe her memories (including those of Kirito, no doubt), her free will, her personality – everything that makes her Yuuki Asuna, if he displeases him. So she has to sit tight, and hope that zany brother-sister duo finds a way to get to her. Judging by how quickly Kirito learned high-speed flying (an awesome scene, BTW), it may not take long.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Rijin is killed fighting the blowdog, and the queerat horde returns. Without Cantus, the kids are powerless, and must flee. Saki trips and falls down a hill, and is found by Satoru, but they’re captured by the queerats. In their tree prison they start to vent their stress an anxiety with intimate behavior, but the guard is watching. Satoru gives it a haythatcher egg, which it eats and is killed. They excape, and are led into a rival queerat colony by a talking queerat named Squealer. He begs the two “gods” to help them against the invading queerats, who attack the colony that night. Satoru and Saki use the confusion to escape, and Satoru ignites poison gas to take out their pursuers. Satoru pokes a hole in the liquid-like ceiling of the cave, which collapses on them.
When Saki and Satoru are taken prisoner by the roving queerats, they find themselves up a tree in very close quarters, and they start to feel very…amarous. They’ve been friends for a long time and both probably find each other attractive, but that isn’t all that’s going on. In a very carefully-animated scene, Saki realizes as she’s with Satoru that she’s doing exactly what the library slug said she’d do if faced with undue stress and anxiety: engage in intimate sexual behavior, like bonobos. She’s doing what her genetic makeup programmed her to do, not what she wants to do. She stops herself.
Before she learned about humanity’s bloody history and the nature of the society she lives in, Saki was into Shun, not Satoru. If she’s going to be intimate, it’ll be with someone she truly likes like him, not whoever happens to be nearby in order to blow off steam. Her mind fights her body. But this is just the first of many situations she and Satoru face this week that puts them into survival mode. She also learns that humans and kids in particular should steer clear of queerats, because they’ll be exhalted as gods and brought into their wars – and war is something most humans can no longer physically wage.
Rating: 9 (Superior)
P.S. Saki’s adventure garb is really cool-looking, giving off some serious Nausicaä vibes.
Kira Kousuke, who murdered then raped three women, is deposited on the island with his lawyer Soichi and his father. When his father goes into an abusive range, Kousuke snaps and plants an implosion bomb on him, killing him. Soichi runs off, but Sakamoto and Taira bump into Kousuke, still standing over the corpse. They run too, but Taira sprains his ankle. Sakamoto draws him away and learns that Kousuke is an experienced Btooom! player, but not as good as him. When a bomb blast makes him concuss his head against a rock, Sakamoto forgets he’s in the real world, and nearly kills Kousuke before snapping out of it. Instead he ties him up and leaves him a candy bar, taking his bombs and supplies.
We consider ourselves lucky and blessed that we had good parents who not only taught us about right and wrong, but were also loving and caring, and didn’t use us as mini punching bags. Kira Kousuke wasn’t so lucky: his dad is human garbage. Well, was. While it isn’t solely his dad’s fault his son ended up a homicidal psychopath – genetics and neuroscience also played important roles – Pop certainly didn’t help matters with his parenting style of “when in doubt, crush your kid’s junk”. Some people back home were clearly so disgusted with him, his rotten son, and the snivelling lawyer, they voted to send the lot of them to the island to kill each other. This drives home the point that everyone on the island were extremely loathed by some of all of their peers.
Voting for someone to die is a lot different from pulling the trigger, especially if you assume the voting is just a game. Himiko’s crime was abandoning her friends to a gang of rapists – which isn’t technically a crime, but definitely earned her loathing; while Kousuke did terrible awful things, but did them because he is quite literally a psychopath. Who knows why Taira was chosen, but the reasons are as diverse as the people, so for all we know one of his coworkers didn’t like how he finished the coffee without making more. Maybe that video game company got sick of Sakamoto’s applications and had him shipped off. Lastly, we’re curious about Sakamoto’s “trance” in which he acted like everything was a game, much like Kousuke. Was this incident unique to his head injury? Will it happen again, causing him to kill?
Rating: 6 (Good)
Car Cameo: In the cold open we see Japan’s favorite squad car, the Toyota Crown GRS180.