This was an arc that started out slow in “Murder in the Safe Zone” but really pics up in the part “Illusionary Avenger.” Like prior episodes it gives more of the dynamics of how the world and game work and shows how the game has changed people for better and for worse. We also get some great moments between Kirito and Asuna.
The story involves a murder in the Safe Zone which leads to Asuna and Kirito’s search to find the killer. They soon find themselves pulled into a greater conspiracy that revolves around the drama of the Golden Apple Guild whose leader was killed after recovering a rare item that the majority had agreed on to sale.
The Pros: The Premise – The mystery is very cool, how can someone die in an area where codewise no one should be able to die? This mystery drives the plot as we soon find out that appearances can be deceiving.
Agil – Agil returns! As he is the one who is able to figure that Grimlock made the weapon that Caynz “died” on. It was great seeing him and the fact that he’s a merchant who makes his own items is really cool. He has a pretty good life within the game and a good friendship with Kirito.
Asuna – Asuna is the leader of the Knights of the Blood and has become driven at getting out of the game but after moments of enjoyment and rest with Kirito she soon finds reason within the game and builds a great friendship with Kirito. She is also the one who captures Grimlock.
Kirito – Kirito is great in this as he is pulled out from being a solo player to interacting with the wider world. He makes a good team with Asuna too and ends up saving Yolko and Caynz from the Laughing Coffin Guild.
Schmitt – Schmitt is a member of the Holy Dragon Alliance and is actually an interesting character. He betrays Griselda because he fears for his life but he lived in regret with it ever since. This leads to Yolko and Caynz sparing him and him growing and finding the courage to stand and not betray again.
Grimlock – Grimlock is a messed up guy who loved the idea of a submissive wife so when when Griselda because a leader he killed her to hold onto the wife he had once had in the real world. It is sad how this still applies to folks too and we still it often where the family or husband will kill their spouse for being independent. It is super messed up.
Griselda – Griselda’s story is about empowerment as in the game she becomes a leader and is respected by her guild who see her like family.
The Reveal – The reveal is cool with the attempt to kill Yolko and Caynz, Shmitt’s confession and the arrest of Grimlock along with him being called out on his sexism and evil. This was the best part of the episode. It is also revealed that when hitpoints go down gear or items vanished and that was when Yolko and Caynz had used their stones to warp out to make it look like they had died.
How the Game Changes People – The game changes people for better and for worse. Grimlock might have been a nice guy before but the game made him feel powerless and he became a monster, Griselda felt powerless before but the game empowered her. In a way this illustrates the power of second chances.
Okay: Yolko and Caynz – It is their gambit to reveal Shmitt as the killer and they do a good job at it but almost end up dead from being used by Grimlock. I wanted more on why they like Griselda and their relationship to her, which is why they are okay and not a pro.
The Cons: The Laughing Coffin – Great design but they are just kind of there as another player killer guild. No individual was distinct so there wasn’t much to go off of with them.
The Ending – Griselda’s ghost appeared, really? It broke the game and made no sense. Only makes sense if other dead characters have echoes too or another world was designed for dead players to go.
This is a good two-parter that I would recommend. It has great minor character and solving the mystery is fun.
Final Score: 9.2 / 10