Sword Art Online – Episode 3 – “The Red-Nosed Reindeer” – The Measure of Loss

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   This is a predictable and sad episode that was really enjoyable. The theme I’m noticing in the first 3 episodes is one of loss and from it finding the strength and resolve to move on. Kirito is through whose eyes the process takes place as he is our stand-in and they do a good job of it since he is a loner the experience of first friendship and being part of a group or new to him. This gives the episode power.

     “”The Red-Nosed Reindeer” is about how Kirito finally joins a group of noobs he was helping advance through the game but as he is helping them find their confidence the lie about the level he actually is comes back to bite him when the group decides to tackle monsters on a higher level.

The Pros: Moonlit Black Cats – This is a great guild who is all about sticking together and being a team more than anything else. Sadly it is that drive that is their destruction as they are willing to take more risks when they learn of Kirito’s true level.

Keita – Keita is the leader of the guild and a good guy but he is also a bit naive as he is never fully there for Sachi and her missing her life she left behind. For him it is all about the team and the game and when he loses the Team it is too much for him and he rejects Kirito.

Sachi – Sachi is afraid and her arc is finding confidence and a reason to live in the Game. She finds that with Kirito and even comes to love him as she sends him a message before her death showing deeply she was thinking about him after they slept together and talked by the river. Her death is sad since she is a full character and her fears about the world and what she left behind are relevant.

Peace and Death – Sachi is seeking death at first because she sees it as the only escape from the game. This is a theme of the series too as so many feel trapped and death is the only thing that will stop the endless struggle.

Klein and Fuurinkazan – Klein is back and his guild is great as we see him defend Kirito when Kirito is seeking the item that can bring back the dead. He has no ill feelings towards Kirito and Kirito is really cold to him until the end when he gives him the item that can bring back a character if it is within ten seconds after they die.

Kirito – Kirito’s arc is moving on from his guilt and also embracing his Loner identity further. After he loses Sachi and the guild it is too much until Sachi’s Christmas Present arrives and in her song he can stop blaming himself and live how he had inspired her to live. It’s a touching scene.

Okay/Con: Divine Dragon Alliance – These guys are mostly faceless evil Paladins, which is okay I guess but overused. There isn’t a face to them either so right now they are just a faceless evil faction. I like the name though.

The Cons: The Lack of Nicholas the Renegade Fight – Nicholas has the item that can bring back the dead but sadly we don’t get to see the fight. He has an awesome look and a cool entrance just for us not to see it. Didn’t like that, this is a game and boss fights are one of the coolest aspects of a game.

This was a good episode with loss though it missed a major opportunity with Nicholas and the Divine Dragon Alliance. This episode was good and it did a lot in showing Guild Life and Kirito’s development and had a death that mattered. I’d recommend it for sure.

Final Score: 8 / 10

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