Kirito has been labeled a “beater” by the SAO community and has ventured forward on his own; but as good as Kirito is, how long can a solo player survive in this world?
It has been 4 months since Kirito struck out on his own; since then powerful players and Guilds have been clearing the floors of Aincrad. Kirito saves a Guild called the Black Cats and is asked to join them. Even though he is 20 levels above them, Kirito still joins the Guild. They fight together, live together, & become closer through each experience…but Kirito knows he can not stay with them for long and in June the decision to stay or go leaves his hands.
The episode mostly focuses on a young girl in the Black Cats named Sachi. She takes a shine to Kirito and the two of them bond fairly quickly, she tells him of her fear of dying and how she wishes she had the courage to commit suicide, but Kirito reassures that he will protect her and the two will survive till the game ends. However, this all comes crashing down around them when they enter a dungeon trap and everyone including Sachi is killed, leaving Kirito the only one alive. This later causes the Guild’s leader (who was away buying them a house at the time.) to commit suicide when he learns the truth.
We see Klein in this episode as well, as he has started his own Guild and become a strong player in his own right. He and Kirito share a few lines of dialogue and it is clear the Klein still cares about his friend; even as Kirito’s behavior grows more reckless. The Holy Dragon Alliance & Knights of the Blood Oath (the most powerful guilds in SAO) are mentioned and we get a glimpse of the Holy Dragon Alliance, which contains hundreds of members; a feeling of large scale is projected as these two Guilds are responsible for clearing most of the floors.
This is one of the more depressing and heart-wrenching episodes of SAO. Even though the Black Cats were only around for one episode, their death’s still resonate in Kirito; especially Sachi’s, which is who he promised to protect. His quest to bring her back (via a special event item on Christmas) is even more tragic when the item he fights so hard for turns out to be worthless. The toll of watching others around him die makes the game all the more real for him and it shows.
The animation in this episode is flawless, from the characters, to the environments, to the lighting, and angles used to tell the story. The final scene is one of the most beautiful and heart-breaking I have ever seen in anime, and is very well done.
The battle to survive continues next week, as Kirito continues onward in Aincrad.