Sword Art Online continues to surprise as it brings its first two-part episode to a satisfactory close – however in doing so, the below average series successfully further hurls itself into the category of “sub-par”.
For once, things pick up exactly where they left off – the bishoujo introduced last episode, who was trying to find the one responsible for the murder of the leader of her guild, the “Golden Apple”, instead finds herself literally stabbed in the back from a knife which came flying through a window behind her, resulting in her “death” within a safe zone of this unartistic sword place. Assuming the obvious, Kirito pursues a cloaked fellow, and presumed assassin – only for them to escape via a teleportaion crystal.
It is revealed this would-be assassin looks exactly the same as Griselda, the expired leader of “Golden Apple” – and her last remaining subordinate deems the assassin the “ghost” of the former leader.
Later that evening, Kirito’s apparent weakness for the opposite sex aids him in unraveling the true nature to this murder case. After dropping his one of a kind, past due date, heroine-made sandwich, the fall forcibly causes the item itself to “expire” – subsequently inciting a spectacular revelation in which the leading male realizes a basic element of this RPG game, showing that even overpowered “master of everything” protagonists will be susceptible to simple knowledge when the lack of plot calls for it.
He reaches the conclusion that none were murdered by the ghost of Griselda at all – yet instead, they forcibly destroyed their armour, causing it to expire at the same time as they teleported to safety. This means that everything which happened up until now was a ploy amongst the guild members to catch the real culprit – not to mention, another pointless escapade on the list.
Seeing that it’s no longer his business, as if it ever was to begin with, Kirito decides that he has already played his part in the case, assuming he had one – and now merely lets the other guild members clean up their own mess.
Meanwhile, as a means to repent in some way for the wrongs he committed, the forgettable side-character from last episode, the hulking brute from before who was whaling like a little kid, begs for forgiveness at Griselda’s grave – only to find himself confessing to his two former allies disguising as ghosts that he was assisting an anonymous guild member to gain a rare item, Griselda’s ring. All of his confession goes recorded by the generic blue-haired bishoujo from before – likely to be used as a means to send him to jail.
Afterwards, out of nowhere, the remaining members of “Golden Apple” are ambushed by a another group of worthless irrelevant canon – a guild of PK’ers known as the “Laughing Coffin”, their name perhaps being the most elaborate aspect of this plot twist. The crew of expendable characters were hired by the real culprit to dispose of all evidence relating to his thievery of the ring, as well as the murder of Griselda – and said culprit turns out to be her actual and digital husband, Grimelocke, a twist immensely shocking in how blatantly unoriginal it is.
Topping off the banality, Kirito comes to the rescue – scaring everyone away with his main character status, and being dubbed the hero despite his lack of basic game understanding.
If this were a mystery series, this could be considered somewhat an interesting episode – yet the story of the murder of some worthless side-character only further serves to stall what is a below average anime with tattered rags for plot. Instead of utilizing this episode to focus more on Kirito and Asuna, Sword Art Online expertly made use of its first two-part segment for the most story irrelevant episode yet – emphasizing the main characters only when it comes time to frighten all the terrible bad guys away,
One can assume that by next episode, likely to be set several weeks or months in the future, we will be introduced to more new characters ready to be killed off within the same episode – dying alongside the quality of the series.