A-1 PICTURES DID NOT DISAPPOINT! This is definitely the greatest and most epic episode in the entire history of Sword Art Online. And dare I say it, one of the greatest episodes for this season! The animation is flawless, the music is perfect, and the fight scenes are incredible and heart-stopping.
While some scenes are cut and altered, I can say that everything turns out well in the end. First, let’s talk about the Mother’s Rosario scene.
This scene… IS BETTER IN THE ANIME. The emotions, that sense of hope that Yuuki gave to Asuna, the fight with PoH, everything is just perfect. One big change that I really loved was the addition of Asuna’s wings at this early point in the story. In the novel, she got it much later after the final battle, but they decided to add them now and tie it to Yuuki’s memory, who acted like an angel to Asuna.
Now the Kirito scenes. There were some parts that were cut and also a few scenes that were added. The first cut scene involved Kirito’s classmate who was being harassed by two bullies on a street. Kirito saw it, and despite his classmate’s silent pleading, he ignored the scene due to his anti-social behaviour and rather self-centered attitude at that time.
The second scene involved Coper, Kirito’s first party member in SAO and a fellow beta tester. In the novel, they partied for an important question, but it turned out that Coper was a monster-PKer—a player who lures monsters into his victims so he could get the items. Long story short, Coper did not want a rival on the quest, so he set a trap for Kirito. The trap backfired, and Coper begs Kirito to save him. But once again, Kirito ignored a call for help.
I kinda wished they could have kept these two scenes together since it would explain a lot of his character development in Aincrad arc and the rest of the series, especially his motivation for joining the Moonlit Black Cats, even though it would paint him as a selfish and cowardly person. But I guess it is for that reason that they didn’t include these scenes.
Now there was a scene they added where Kirito was on his way back home. And this scene, Alice and Eugeo both appeared as regular people. Now I can’t say for sure what the director intended this one to be, but for me, their appearance is merely based on Kirito’s subconscious thought and his wish to be together with them.
The rest of the episode played pretty much the same as the novel. But they did omit one minor part. In the novel, Kirito performed an Incarnation blade to protect Asuna from the red player who is about to kill her. But in this episode, it went straight to him using the Blue Rose Sword’s Full Weapon Control Art.
There is also a minor change in the opening credits, and it now showed an android Alice and a full view of the entire Admina planet, the world where the entire Alicization arc took place. Only light novel readers like me might get the significance of this brief scene, especially in relation to the Unital Ring arc.
This episode is one epic adaptation, and it deserves nothing but a perfect 10/10!