Asuna escapes from her cell on top of the World Tree and proceeds to look for a way to log out of Alfheim Online.
In this episode Kirito, Yui, and Leafa’s journey to the World Tree nears its conclusion, as they arrive at the capital city of Alfheim online. Back at the World Tree, Asuna slyly enters the pass code to her cage and navigates the area. Before long she finds numerous unconscious players who have been trapped since the end of the Sword Art Online incident, all victims of illegal experiments on their minds being done by rogue developers of Alfheim Online. Unfortunately Asuna’s escape is noticed by them and a furious Sugou, and Asuna is soon recaptured. Back at the Capital City, Yui senses her mother’s presence and informs Kirito that Asuna is trapped right above them.
So the beginning of the end begins to unravel as Asuna’s plan to escape imprisonment ends in total failure. The the antagonists’ scheme of experimenting on the minds of numerous trapped players shouldn’t be all that surprising, considering how psychotic Sugou has made himself out to be with his entire brain-altering plan that he revealed a few episodes back. It seems worth mentioning that these illegal game developers exist as disgusting purple monsters in Alfheim, which is an accurate portrayal of the type of people who would go so far as to make a career out of experimenting on other human beings.
This episode gives me a major headache for how it firmly places Asuna in her helpless position in this storyline. Numerous episodes earlier in the series portrayed her as someone who could stand on her own, and I felt she was going to a character who would grow stronger with Kirito and perhaps even appeal to the female audience. Instead, I’ve watched her become weaker and used as typical “eye candy” in a way that plenty of viewers have found very distasteful. I personally can’t stand any type of situation where female characters are simply there to look pretty for male viewers instead of getting real development. You’d think a character like Leafa would avert this without Asuna around, but sadly she is also more a victim of fan service than anything else. Before those moments were brief and I could easily just roll my eyes and move on, but now the route this story is taking is leaving a very sour taste in my mouth. This series has pulled moves like this before and so far I easily just rolled my eyes since it would barely last for five seconds. However now, the route this story is taking is beginning to leave a really, really sour taste in my mouth. Asuna escaping would have been a much better idea as a way for her to help fight against Sugou rather than the show resorting to this redundancy of Kirito always getting the spotlight and being the hero.