A-1 PICTURES DID NOT DISAPPOINT ON ITS FINAL SAO EPISODE FOR THIS YEAR!
This is one hell of a mid-season finale! And though they skipped two very minor scenes, everything was on point and flawless. I initially thought the violent parts would be censored like the other anime this season, but A-1 has proven that they are willing to give the fans the best experience they could offer. They went all out on the gore here! Limbs and heads were literally flying everywhere, and all the blood gushing out was extremely good to watch.
Now about the skipped scenes. The first one involved Asuna re-attaching her arm, which they slightly changed here. In the novel, she did it after regrouping with the supply team and seeing Kirito once more, who cried at her injury. This is also where Renri, as the last Integrity Knight present in the group, took command of the army in place of Bercouli.
Personally, I prefer the anime version because it’s more logical to heal your injuries as soon as time permits. Unlike in the novel where Asuna had to see Kirito just to realize that she can re-attach her arm.
Now the second scene is part of the conversation between Critter and Vassago. They actually cut that off midway through, and it was longer in the novel. The missing part shows Vassago giving a piece of paper to Critter which contained the password for his spare account. And it reads: SAO.
Other slight alterations: in the novel, Liena was actually injured in the battle and even had a bandage on her head, but they changed that in this episode to make her unharm. Also, the boulder that was thrown toward Ishkahn was waaay larger in the anime compared to the novel. The bridge was also increased from a single one in the novel to the six bridges that were shown here.
Gabriel’s creepy smile was dead spot on, though they didn’t reveal his thoughts: to enjoy Alice’s body while she is still in the Underworld.
Overall, this is a perfect mid-season finale. Definitely a 10/10 for me.
See you guys next April when the last cour finally airs! Have a happy New Year!