Apologies for the lateness (and the shortness) of this post. I was doing important university things. Anyway, I m back now and with a new episode of SAO to review, and what an episode it was.

Starting where we left off last episode, Kirito and Asuna encounter a particularly mean-looking boss. Faced with what looks like a blue Minotaur on steroids, they do the sensible thing and retreat until they can put together a reasonable party to take it down. While in the dungeon, they meet Klein and his party, who are all a little star-struck (and perhaps love-struck) over Asuna. It is good to see Klein again. Klein is fun, and, as much as I like Kirito, its refreshing to have another male character in the party.

The two do some catching up and Klein, like Liza, suspects there's more to Kirito and Asuna than just friends. At this rate, it will be one of those everyone knows but the ones involved secrets. Certainly their relationship has come a long way from their first meeting.

Anyway, the reunion between Kirito and Klein is interrupted by a bunch of other players who are clearing the dungeon. After rudely demanding the map data, the leader of the group then forces his tired men to march toward what is surely their doom. There is something to be said about such blatant stupidity. Even a child could see that they could never beat the boss in their state. You d think the whole life or death schtick has been hammered home enough times that people would be more cautious and yet time and time again players are throwing themselves into the wolf s mouth, just like Sachi and her party rushing into the room with the treasure chest.

Speaking of Sachi, we get several flashbacks of her death. I m glad that they ve used the scene again to illustrate Kirito s current feelings; his desire never to see someone die again, and his fear that it will happen anyway. Yay for emotional continuity!

Aside from some very nice animation going on here, this episode was intense on the emotional level. Imagine standing there watching people die, knowing that you probably can t help (you ll probably die too if you tried) but unable to look away. That s going to leave some traumatic scars at least. Surprisingly, it s Asuna and not Kirito who snaps first. I think that that s a very important thing to note, and says something about their mindsets...if only I could be bothered to try to psychoanalyze them now.

So Asuna snaps and everyone rushes in. Kirito and his party have their backs against the wall until Kirito pulls out his trump card. Remember the sword he forged with Liz The one that he never used It comes out now, and plot point A is revealed: Kirito can duel-wield. Kirito informs us that one day the ability just popped up. It s definitely shady, and (will be a plot point later on) I think it was sensible to be mistrustful of it, but thanks to his skill, most people survive, and they escape the dungeon.

So, we ve got a lot of revelations this episode and a lot of things going on. Next episode should be pretty intense too with Kirito in another duel over Asuna. This episode was good for both their relationship and their characters. Not only do we see how much they care for each other, Asuna shows that she is more than just a tsundere, and Kirito shows how all those episodes of people dying or almost dying on him finally comes to a head.

I am looking forward to the next one.