I will have to admit; this episode is really hard for me to review. On one hand, this is an almost page-by-page adaptation of pages 300-350 of the novel. There are only three minor lines and scenes that were cut, and I can say that everything else is on point.
On the other hand, something is missing: emotion. Yes, the scenes were exactly as they were in the novels. However, most felt kind of flat. For example, the Kirisuna reunion scene. In the novel, Kirito’s wheelchair was shaking violently after he saw Asuna again. He was making all these really heartbreaking noises as he tried to move. But in this episode, it just felt… okay. He did move, but we never saw him actually struggle. We never saw his body tremble from all his unreleased emotions. One thing they did portray better than the novels, though, were the tears.
Now, the Asunalice fight scene(yes, people like me ship these two lol). Better in some parts, just okay in most. It was altered slightly at the beginning. In the novel, Alice’s sword was not in full control art when she attacked Asuna. But here, it was.
For the fight itself, it was a little slow despite being just as short as the novel. Remember the Kirito vs Fanatio fight? Asuna and Alice’s swordsmanship were way faster than that. Still, the portrayal here is not really bad. Just okay.
Everything else after these two is more or less the same. Though in that information exchange scene, Asuna and Alice were less pissed off when Liena showed up, unlike in the novel where they were totally pissed off at first.
A few things they glossed over and never mentioned: Asuna’s thoughts when she killed those dark knights were somewhat dark. In the novel, she felt remorseful for killing the fluctlights, but didn’t let the guilt affect her because, and to quote her here, “For Kirito, I will bear any sin.”
Then there’s that deleted part Alice was admiring Asuna’s beauty during that meeting scene with the knights and captain. That was totally left out in this episode, which is a little disappointing since it showed how Alice was not really hostile against Asuna.
As a side note, there is a monologue from Asuna which they also removed. In that monologue, she realizes that her interaction with Alice was the same as when she first met Kirito. They argued, they fight all the time, then eventually they fell in love.
Overall, this is not a bad episode despite the flaws I mentioned. Definitely an 8.5/10.