Kirito decides to join up with a guild called “The Moonlit Black Cats”
Four months have already passed and the floors of Sword Art Online are slowly being defeated. After helping out a guild called the “Moonlit Black Cats”, Kirito gets invited to their guild by their leader Ketia, and is requested to train the only girl on the team, Sachi. Kirito agrees to help them out and keeps the fact that he’s really level 40 a secret, in order to motivate all of the members. Slowly, he begins to bond with the members of the Moonlit Cats and helps Sachi get rid of her fear of dying within the game. On June 12th, 2023, Ketia goes off to buy a new house for the guild and the rest of the members decide to go to the higher dungeon floors in order to make more money. However, the entire group ends up falling into a trap inside one of the floors and are attacked by a fierce group of monsters. Kirito fiercely tries to save his new friends, but they all die one by one and he is forced to watch Sachi vanish right before his eyes. Kirito becomes one of the two remaining members of the guild and is forced to tell a devastated Ketia, who jumps off a nearby bridge and vanishes into cyberspace.
In order to try to keep his promise to Sachi that she would survive, Kirito desperately takes on a suicide mission after hearing of a rumor about reviving dead players. On December 24th, 2023, Argo the informant reveals to Kirito of the location of a new holiday boss who goes by the name of “Nicholas the Renegade” , who holds an item that can revive anybody. Kirito heads to the location by himself and is stopped by Klein and his guild, who beg him to not take on the boss alone. Quickly more guilds soon arrive that also want the item, which forces Klein and his team to hold them back so Kirito can face the boss. Upon killing Nicholas, Kirito is shocked to find out that the item can only be used on people who have been dead for less than ten seconds, so he decides to hand the item to Klein and orders him to use it on somebody who dies. Later at night, Kirito receives a Christmas message from Sachi (who sent it prior to her death) that tells him that she was thankful to have such a wonderful friend and hopes he will have a merry Christmas. Tears begin to fall from Kirito’s eyes as he hears Sachi’s voice humming “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”.
“The Red-Nosed Reindeer” touches upon of the biggest themes in this series: death. When a player dies in Sword Art Online then they themselves die in the real world, and this episode very hard to swallow because of how it truly drives home how dangerous the game is. When I began to watch this story unfold I was already getting the vibe that the Moonlit Cats were going to die; the guild was such a happy and heartwarming thing in a very depressing environment that it felt like the episode was telegraphing that something terrible was going to happen. Regardless, the entire death scene still hit me hard and Kirito’s effort to at least save Sachi by killing “Nicholas The Renegade” was very impactful. The only main problem here was…we didn’t get to see him actually beat the boss! This is a huge disappointment because it was the climax of the episode and I would of loved to see how glorious of a scene it would have been with Kirito’s determination to save his friends at full force. In the end though, it is powerful bittersweet feelings that the episode ends on Kirito waking up at night to Sachi’s surprise final message, which was the icing on the cake for this depressing line of events.