Kirito and Leafa arrive at the meeting place just in time to stop the Salamanders. Kirito claims to be an ambassador for the “Spriggan-Undine Alliance” that will join with the Sylphs and Cait Siths if the Salamanders attack, but General Eugene doesn’t believe him, and challenges him to a duel. Using his Spriggan skills to create an occluding smoke cloud, Kirito grabs Leafa’s sword and surprises Eugene with a dual-wielding attack. Sakuya heals Eugene, who agrees to withdraw for now. Sakuya contacts Sigurn and banishes him from the Sylph. Kirito and Leafa continue to Arun. High up in the World Tree, Asuna enters the correct key code on the door and escapes, but must now navigate the tree’s maze of branches.
Is it just us, or is Kirito growing more insuffrably noble by the episode? He dispatches one of the (if not the) most powerful players in the game with authority, and is then clung to and yanked on by no less than three comely lasses, because Kirito is like a heroin-catnip parfait for the ladies. It’s a good thing this is all taking place in virtual reality. In any case, Kirito’s fight convinces both the leader of the Salamander attack force and his men to withdraw and they all gain respect for the Spriggans, whom everyone seems to hold in high regard (isn’t that racist, BTW?)
Now that Kirito has dealt relatively easily with a problem Leafa thought would be much bigger and more hazardous, they can continue on to the base of the World Tree, where Kirito seeks to rescue his true love – and he ain’t even gonna give all these other floozies the time of day. And with Asuna escaping her cell (which we hope wasn’t intentional on Oberon’s part so as to mess with her, though we wouldn’t put it past him), it looks like Kirito isn’t far from facing off against Foe Numero Uno. The issue of Sugu/Leafa and Kazuto/Kirito not knowing each others’ real-life identities, seems to have been shelved for now. Maybe they’ll never know.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Yamato and Megu-tan’s photo shoot is a big hit at school, and Megumi informs Yamato the studio wants him to come back for more modeling work. Mei doesn’t voice her real feelings, so he agrees, and starts spending more and more time with Megumi. When Mei hears the rumor that Yamato has been seen leaving Megumi’s house at night, she breaks down. Asami and Aiko give her a good cop/bad cop pep talk, both speaking from their experience with jealousy. Mei decides to take Aiko’s advice and act – walking straight up to Yamato in the hallway full of classmates and kissing him.
Last week we said Mei was in a world of trouble, and she still was for most of this episode, and as long as she keeps her feelings internal and wallows in the shadows. This week the aggressive Megumi’s edges are softened somewhat. Her actions – getting Yamato to work more at a job in which they’re always together; making too much food so he comes over to eat it – seem a bit too skewed in favor of what Megumi wants to be totally innocent, but unlike Aiko, she still hasn’t called Mei out, but that could also be a sign of hostility, as she doesn’t even deem Mei worth the trouble of a war declaration. She’s warm and friendly to her, but everything she’s doing just happens to work against Mei, and Mei is doing nothing about it except getting more and more emotionally bent-out-of-shape.
Well, this week Mei takes the first step towards changing that. She’s stopped herself from telling Yamato his text is late, she’s given him no sign that she has a problem with him hanging out with Megu-tan for large swaths of time (though you’d think he’d pick up on her body language), and she even postpones what should be a demand for an explanation vis-a-vis Yamato leaving Megumi’s house (while they’re just having dinner, it’s still…weird). Instead, she gives Yamato a big kiss in front of everyone. A reminder to him and everyone that yes, she’s still there, yes, she likes Yamato, and yes, he belongs to her.
Rating: 9 (Superior)
Two years after their summer camp adventure, the circle of friends are now fourteen and starting to drift away. Shun and Satoru are an affectionate item, but Shun gets tired of him and dumps him. Saki and Maria also form a couple, but Saki longs for Shun. Itou likes Maria but is too shy to do anything about it. One day their class is visited by Kaburagi Shiei – owner of the most powerful Cantus. When he approaches Shun (who is acting strange), something happens, and when Saki bumps into him later Shun tells her he believes their punishment was merely being delayed, and that he must now go away to recieve some kind of “special treatment”.
Love is in the air, or at least some kind of biologically-dictated version of it, as the gang ages two years since the last episode. Hormones run wild and kids pair off like there’s no tomorrow. They’re all following their ancestors’ wish to coexist in a “society of love” like Bonobos (the yaoi/yuri stuff is tastefully enough done). Saki wants to pair off with Shun, but Shun’s with Satoru, at least initially, and then…he only wants to be alone. Saki finds solace in Maria, but their pairing leaves Itou as the fifth wheel. The whole time all this touching and nuzzling is going on, Saki continues to have the feeling that something is terribly wrong. Shun shares her suspicions, but now he appears to be in trouble.
It’s weird seeing everyone suddenly two years older at first, and we think it’s supposed to be weird, like everything’s a little off. Because, of course it is. At first the episode is ambiguous, but as it progresses its clear they still remember what happened two summers ago, which means they remember everything the false minoshiro said about society, and about disruptive elements being removed for the good of the group. Shun, it seems, is on the verge of becoming a disruption, and considering how powerful his Cantus is, it looks like he’s going to be dealt with one way or another. He’s unwilling to let Saki or anyone else interfere and risk their own safety. It seems best for Saki, Maria, Satoru and Itou to simply keep their heads down.
Rating: 8 (Great)