It comes as no surprise that Series Director Itou Tomohiko would write, direct, and storyboard this final episode, either. Interestingly, Character Designer Adachi Shingo and Chief Animation Supervisor Yamashita Yuu are the only credited animation supervisors and both are simply credited as such. What this episode prepared well enough ahead of schedule that it was possible to do without help from others? A few talented key animators and an army of second key animators worked on the episode, so I have to assume the seconds did a lot of the clean up, too.

Despite the lower number of animation supervisors the episode even did without its regular Opening animation in place of extra cuts! Promoting an insert song probably made that an easy decision to make, though.

At first I thought the cut at 1:13 was of Kazuto eating dinner with the Yuuki family before remembering Asuna had an elder brother.

I was surprised we see some nice action cuts in the episode, too. Yuuki versus Kirito was probably done by Shikama Takahiro or Take'uchi Tetsuya but I'm not sure. The farewell to Yuuki had some really nice bits of character animation that I hadn't expected to see. That transition from confidence to breaking down crying was really well done, even if sudden. In fact, it was probably Take'uchi Tetsuya's best work of the series.

Yuuki looks different from her avatar. I suppose I was expecting her to look more like her avatar, just like Asuna does. Hmm...

Shiune lives! It must feel weird to be both happy to be alive despite having expected--and perhaps promised--to die with her friends.

The next series will definitely have to investigate this Koujirou Rinko lady. Who knows what other technologies she might have on hand that could help advance whatever Kirito is aiming for? Speaking of which, Kirito had better make some money off of that technology he shared with the hospital!

Now that Yui is portable we won't have to do without Itou Kanae! Someone really ought to paint the camera a more personalized color, though.

On a final note, it is a shame that the series is over again so soon. It feels like so many new possibilities opened up, so it's a shame we won't get to see them explored. My hope is the novels can keep coming out at a steady clip so that the animated adaptions don't catch up too quickly and the gap grows even larger.

Also, thank God most of my post survived the forum upgrade. I tried posting right as the forum was in the middle of it without knowing! I only had to re-write the last two paragraphs.