Around a year and a half after Sword Art Online opened, some twenty floors below the highest reached floor, a young girl gets into a fight with a woman over the healing item distribution in their party that ends with her storming away from the group.
This girl is Silica, one of the few Beast Tamers in the game with a dragon she calls Pina, however while she and Pina would have usually been able to escape the current level of dungeon with ease, the wandering nature of it leaves her tired, exhausted, and eventually surrounded by monsters. As a result of this Silica’s HP quickly drops but just before one of the monsters can inflict a finishing blow, Pina spontaneously throws herself in front of Silica, sacrificing herself just as our protagonist Kirito, now known as the Black Swordsman can come to her rescue. Explaining that while he was too late to save Pina, they still have time to revive her through an event on a floor ten levels up. Deciding to equip and accompany her in order to revive Pina because she reminds him of his sister Suguha.
After making it back to the town and making it past some of Silica’s fans, they eventually head to an inn to stay for the night where they run into the woman who Silica had a fight with, Rosalia, who once more antagonises her. Kirito going on to explain that people’s personalities tend to change in MMORPGs, and that the colour of the cursors above them represent their status, with the worst PKers being red. Following which Kirito sets about explaining the details as to how to acquire the item to revive Pina but finds they have an eavesdropper. The next morning they then head up to the floor, revealing a floor filled with flowers and couples, and so as they make their way through the monsters Kirito tells her about his sister. Revealing that in truth he’s technically her adopted cousin but when they were growing up his old-fashioned grandfather was adamant about him doing kendo, and that when he lost interest after two years his sister stepped in to take his place six years ago. Silica consoling that he doesn’t have to feel guilty as his sister must have loved kendo.
Eventually they end up making it to and retrieving the item needed to revive Pina, but as they head back Kirito spots someone lying in wait to ambush them, Rosalia who Kirito confronts as the leader of the orange cursor group Titan’s Hand and as the eavsdropper from last night. Going on to reveal that the reason he was on the low floor where he ran into Silica was because he was pursuing her, having been swayed by one of the survivors who had seen his entire guild annihilated and went to the top floors pleading for someone to bring them to justice. To this however Rosalia calls out the rest of Titan’s Hand however after attacking him all at once they find that his HP actually recovers faster than they can inflict damage, making it impossible for them to kill him. Kirito then presents the teleport crystal that the survivor had given them that leads to the player run jail, telling them they can either walk through or he’ll send them through by force.
Following this Kirito and Silica head back to the inn and agree to meet again once they make it out of Aincrad as they revive Pina, Silica feeling as if she’s had an older brother for a day.
Honestly I don’t really care much for Silica but this was still a good episode, in terms of the story at hand it’s probably the most fillerish considering that Silica doesn’t really have a chance of showing up again soon but it was handled well enough. Even if a number of forgotten details messed some things up.
Details like just what happens to Rosalia and her gang once they stepped through the portal, it was mentioned that it would lead to a prison of sorts but the details on the prison weren’t exactly touched upon, would it be run by NPCs or Players themselves? Being familiar with the novel I know it’s the latter but it’s omissions like this that I think are really holding back this show, I understand that world building works far better in text than it does on-screen however to a degree it still stands. In terms of time spent in Aincrad around a year has passed since the first episode but we know near nothing, good or bad, as to how people have adapted to it in exchange for running through the story in a get it over and done with manner. There are benefits in adapting these stories in chronological order but they aren’t being used.
As for Silica? Well she isn’t exactly terrible but she isn’t amazing either, in terms of character she’s your fairly generic loli archetype but her role was to portray another side of life in Aincrad to Kirito and company’s high level battles on the frontier, and to really just be in awe of him. Her character was to show that not everyone races to the frontlines and risks life and death or huddles on the first floor too scared at what to do, but the middle ground between them in a class of players who venture out just so they don’t get bored or can live a little better than the latter, and as such she achieved the former as well. From her perspective she would have seen Kirito as someone who’s strength was near incomprehensible. On a side note it was also nice to hear Rina Hidaka again, and even hear Megumi Toyoguchi voice Rosalia.
Even if his character is pretty inconsistent so far I also liked how Kirito reflected on his relationship with his sister, Suguha, a character we had only seen for a few unclear seconds in the first minute of the first episode. It showed that he felt indebted to her, while he was off playing video games and such she was constantly working hard just so that he could do that, so once again while his character has been pretty inconsistent (in terms of story yes, time itself not so much), I liked that we were able to see his relationship with a character whom we would have completely overlooked touched upon. A character who with the way that the anime is racing through the source material, we should get a better look at in the second half, espicially since she’s already voiced by Ayana Taketatsu.