As Yui s storyline comes to a conclusion, we learn a little more about the construction of Sword Art Online, and how a little girl fits into the schemes of its creator.
Doing a blow-by-blow account of this episode would not do the whole thing justice. It doesn t help that a lot of what is compelling about it comes down to a subjective rather than an objective viewpoint. For instance, a lot of what drives this mini-arc is an investment in the characterisation of Yui. She is, quite clearly, pandering to those viewers who find the cute little girl type adorable. While I find Yui enjoyable to watch, some viewers may find her a little demanding up until The Reveal about her backstory.
Similarly, the redressing of the Army in this episode could be seen as a comment on how ideals become lost when selfish men take control, for instance; but following the memorable scenes where kamikaze soldiers are walked till they cannot stand, and episode 11 s extortion racket, it is difficult to absolve the Army of all its sins.
Nevertheless, half of the focus of this episode is placed on finding and rescuing the previously unseen guild master Thinker. On the request of the vice-president Yulier, Kirito, Asuna and Yui join the search party in the most dangerous hidden dungeon of the game so far. To be honest, it feels as though Kirito should have a few more issues with a defenceless child coming with them. He has only recently gotten over the guilt of Sachi s death, after all.
Unsurprisingly, nothing is as straightforward as initially planned. Though Thinker is safe, he is trapped by an undefeatable enemy which soundly thrashes pretty much everyone. Yui, acting for GMs everywhere, summons a frankly unbelievable sword and cuts the Fatal Scythe to pieces. Then she reveals the truth that a few viewers might have guessed Yui is an AI created for Sword Art Online. She was supposed to be a kind of counselling figure in the game, but on the day Kayaba Akihiko trapped everyone, Yui was kept out by the game s Cardinal system. She was made to watch players die while unable to do anything to help them. Yui s first day of life really sucked, it seems.
For illegal actions , Yui gets deleted. Kirito, trying out previously unheard of hacking skills, uses a nearby terminal to save whatever is left of the girl, and promises to install her again when everyone gets back to the real world.
Whether this is a fantastic episode or not depends upon your level of investment at this point. Those who invested in Yui s character will no doubt be dragged along by the high emotional tension of the dungeon scenes, as well as the softer scenes in the Town of Beginnings. However, Yui is still an incidental character. If you aren t a fan, you may find that knowing about the sophisticated level of technology involved in Sword Art Online to be interesting if a little over-the-top. However, if you don t care much for either, episode 12 probably will not have any effect on you.