Sword Art Online – 03

While the front line teams are approaching the halfway point of the game, Kirito wallows down on the 20th floor, where he saves the lives of a guild called the Moonlit Black Cats. They insist he join them, and he does, though he conceals his far higher level from them. While a member, they climb high, and he befriends Sachi, a girl constantly afraid of dying; Kirito insists she won’t. While the Cats’ leader Keita is off buying the guild’s first house, the rest go to a dungeon and are ensnared in a treasure box trap, and everyone is killed except for Kirito. When Keita returns and learns of Kirito’s level, he commits suicide.

Kirito goes after a level boss called Nicholas Renegade, who arrives at the stroke of midnight on Christmas, believing he’ll drop a rare item that will bring Sachi back. Klein and his men fight off the elite Holy Dragon Alliance, and Kirito defeats Nicholas, but the item will only bring back a life ‘within ten seconds’ of dying. He gives the item to Klein and slinks off on his own. That night, he recieves an auto-sent message from Sachi, in case she died, telling him not to blame himself and keep surviving to the end.

This weeks episode shows us a Kirito who hasn’t taken leadership of any group or guild, but merely wanders the game, leveling up and staying away from the front lines. But circumstances led him to saving a lower-leveled guild, and when they insist he join up, he can’t say no. This is a group of friends in real life (a PC research club), and it’s probably nice from Kirito’s perspective, at this point in the game, to see that there are close-knit ‘families’ fighting for one another. He probably couldn’t turn his back on that…only he didn’t reveal he was double their level when he joined. Thus he entered a “safe” arrangement – until he learns that one stupid mistake in the game can mean game over. It’s pretty awful to see the guild get killed one by one, but as soon as Kirito told Sachi earlier she wouldn’t die, we kinda expected her to, and she did.

Sometimes simple premises are the best when dealing with single-episode romances like that of Kirito and Sachi, so we’re glad they didn’t do too much, and were moved nonetheless. We found ourselves hoping he could keep her alive and help her overcome her fear. When she died, we hoped he could bring her back, but it just wasn’t to be (the “within ten seconds” catch was particularly heartbreaking). Sachi’s posthumous message was a touching coda to their story of tender, doomed romance. It hopefully allows Kirito to move forward and become a more important force in SAO – if not for himself, than for everyone else; something his dead leader Keita insisted the elite groups were doing.


Rating: 9 (Superior)