WHAT AN EPIC EPISODE!
This is probably one of the best episode in the entire series to date, combining flawless animation and fight choreography with SAO’s best soundtracks.
The scene with all the players arriving perfectly captured the essence in the novel, though the anime tried for a slightly different tone and feeling. In the novel, it was more of an emotional scene that is very reminiscent of the Ride of the Rohirrim in Lord of the Rings trilogy, especially when the blue codes started to rain down from the sky.
But in the anime, it is more of an epic and upbeat scene comparable with Avengers Endgame’s memorable Assemble scene. And it is even made better when not one, but two versions of Swordland were played: the first part of the Ordinal Scale version, and the last part of the original theme.
There is one minor scene that was compressed in this part, however. In the novel, there was a scene involving the experience of a Japanese player with his encounter of Frenica, Tiese’s and Ronye’s friend in the Sword Academy. But in this episode, it was only shown in a brief and passing frame.
One minor difference: Pina the Dragon was present in the battle, unlike in the novel where it was just Silica.
The Ocean Turtle scene is a perfect adaptation, and there’s not much to talk about that part.
But obviously the main highlight of this episode is the second part of the Bercouli vs Vector fight! Everything from the fluid animation and music to the subtle and minor changes made it TEN TIMES BETTER THAN THE NOVEL VERSION! It is arguably the best fight we’ve seen so far, even topping the fight with Administrator.
Some subtle changes in the scene. In the novel, there was only a brief mention of Hoshigami the Dragon joining the fight and attacking Vector without injuring him much. But in this episode, the dragon actually managed to bit off one of Vector’s legs as a final attack.
The Uragiri slash is slightly altered here to compensate for the lack of exposition. In the novel, Bercouli was searching for Vector’s driest footprints to deliver the attack—Uragiri only works at the exact ten minute point, hence why Bercouli was counting in the episode. But in this adaptation, it was changed to include a phantom image of that moment to help the audiences understand the scene.
Overall, this is definitely one of SAO’s best episode to date, and it deserves a perfect 10/10 score.