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Following the new leads, Kirito investigates the new MMO Alfheim Online, seeking answers to Asuna s persistent coma. It soon becomes clear that, for all the talk of fairies, there are some interesting similarities to Sword Art Online

Episode 16 feels like a reunion of sorts. Characters from the first SAO storyline are popping up again in unusual places. Maybe not so unusual, actually Egil looks very much at home as a bartender in a nostalgia-fuelled joint. If anything, his bartender uniform fits his hard man image better than his armoured avatar, in my humble opinion. He remains the man-to-know in the real world, having a handle on the affairs of gamers and business too. Continuing from the previous episode, he gives Kirito the lowdown on Alfheim: a skill-based game that gives users the ability to fly. At the highest point of the game s World Tree, players discovered a birdcage which contains someone who looks like Asuna. Egil bar-slides him a copy, and Kirito is off to explore this new digital world.

(I will continue to call this character Egil, and not Agil, by the way. There s no particular reason although my love affair with Xenoblade Chronicles probably has something to do with it.)

At home, Suguha is still blushing profusely over spending the night with Kirito. Obviously there s something more than familial feelings here, which she s finding difficult to swallow. Just like the nearly fatal muffins that she keeps around to choke upon. For one second, I wondered if the new intros that tout her as the female lead were a Gen Urobochi-style ruse, and Kirito was about to be traumatised by the sight of his cousin-sister asphyxiating in front of him. Thankfully, juice is on hand to prevent the most depressing death in Sword Art Online history.

After spending a few seconds being oblivious to Suguha s crush, Kirito decides to log on to Alfheim Online and begin investigations. He chooses his avatar for aesthetic reasons you know, as a pro-gamer usually does and launches into this new world. After falling into an suspiciously-timed bug, our hero is dropped into a neutral area of the world.

Continuing our little reunion, Kirito summons Yui to make sense of what s going on. It seems that he has gained all his Sword Art Online stats in this new world, and a few of his old items. Yui uses her mad hacking skills to discover the truth: RCT, the company that made Alfheim, took control of Argus assets following the Sword Art Online incident. As a result, Alfheim is hosted on the same systems as SAO, with cruder versions of the controlling systems. This probably resulted in the importing of data across games.

And now, magical girls. There is a very pretty transformation sequence, where Yui becomes a Pixie guide for Kirito. It is cute. Kirito pokes Yui in the face because, you know, that s how you treat miniaturised avatars of your AI daughter. That is all.

Now we get catapulted into the action segment of the episode, and meet some of those characters introduced in the opening animation. Two fairies, blonde Leafa and green haired Recon, are being chased by red fairies across the sky. There is a short sortie that comes across as a more balletic version of the typical Bleach fight sequence. It would be easier to enthuse about this if I were not required to keep on typing fairies while describing the action. I don t know after spending so much time in the more Westernised Sword Art Online world, visiting the world of Alfheim Online is a bit of a jarring shift.

Anyway all you need to know is that Recon is, unsurprisingly, useless; Leafa, while more competent, gets backed into a corner after she loses her flight; and Kirito, being Kirito, arrives onto the scene to flash-step people to death. End episode.

So, as I said before, this episode feels like a reunion. We revisit a few old characters, learn how they re getting along, and they give a helping hand to Kirito. It is a nice touch, and it s great to know that Egil and Yui aren t going to be left behind during this new arc. We are also introduced to some new characters, who may or may not prove to be interesting. Recon in particular seems to be this show s Scrappy Doo at the moment, but hopefully Leafa will be a little more endearing. Also, as previously mentioned, I am not yet sold on Alfheim Online as the new setting for the story. Already I have been typing the word fairies more than I think I should in a review. Yes, they may be badass in the case of Kirito, but there need to be a few more epic battles before I feel at home with this new setting.