Sword Art Online Season 1 easily climbed up the list of popular anime titles of all time when it was released in 2012. There are a lot of factors that contributed to its success but possible the most obvious one is its art style. Sword Art Online introduced a refreshing feel. It’s as if every scene is carved out from all our expectations of what a fantasy world would be. The sceneries and overall beauty of the fantasy world is just a small part of it. Both the main and supporting characters were well thought-of. Their equipment and skills were carefully laid out to match their personality and affiliations.
The RPG elements introduced all throughout the series were also new flavors back then. It’s fun to watch an anime that makes you remember fun-filled memories when you were playing a MMORPG with friends. Slaying monsters to gain experience points and ganging up a powerful boss monster just to obtain rare loot are just two scenarios that will surely hype RPG fanatics while watching Sword Art Online. The love story between the two main characters, Kirito and Asuna, served as a delightful cherry on top. However, some fans are a bit disappointed that the development of their feelings toward each other seemed rush.
As Kirito and Silica were heading out after harvesting a rare item which can revive dead pets, Rosaia and a group of thieves blocked their way. Silica was scared because they were outnumbered and she had yet to know Kirito’s combat ability. Rosalia and his companions had red names. This means that they already killed players in the past. It was a dire situation for Silica but Kirito remained his cool. He was confident because of the level difference. Despite having the numbers, Rosalia’s group can’t damage Kirito enough to overcome his passive regeneration. No matter how hard they try, their efforts ended up pointless. This did not only affirm Kirito’s strength but also revealed how being trapped in a game can corrupt people. Rosalia and his group were evidently denying the fact that they will die in real life if they lose all their hit points in the game.
Kirito is the hero. He was chosen from the start to save everyone from the being trapped in SAO. It was not explained whether it was by chance or if Akihiko found something special in Kirito. He was also clueless about his destiny until a rare skill suddenly appeared. It gave him the ability to dual-wield. Kirito was still confused why he got the skill. The only thing clear to him is that he will eventually be put on a tight spot in the near future and be forced to use the skill. This is why he decided to get a spare sword. Everything displayed on the blacksmith shop he went to were not on par with his requirements. He want his second sword to be at least as strong as his main weapon. He was lucky to meet Asuna’s friend, Rika. She personally accompanied Kirito in search for a Frost dragon. The scales of an ice dragon can be used to form a strong and sharp blade. Their adventure was short-lived but Rika can’t help but admire Kirito’s bravery and skills.
After catching a rare ingredient, Kirito was searching for someone with a high cooking level. He went to his friend to discuss it and found. Fate clearly smiled on Kirito as he met Asuna there. Kirito was very excited after knowing that Asuna maxed out her cooking skill and the feeling is mutual since Asuna could barely believe that a rare ingredient is in front of her. Since Kirito is doesn’t have cooking tools, Asuna invited him to her house. Kuradeel, Asuna’s bodyguard immediately objected. He portrayed that it was his duty to protect his Vice-Captain but he clearly has ulterior motives. Asuna insisted that it was alright and shed dragged Kirito away from Kuradeel. The day after, Kuradeel was relentless in pursuing Asuna and preventing her from making a party with Kirito. His persistence even qualifies as an act of obsession as he continued to chase Asuna until Kirito stopped him. Kuradeel insisted to have a duel with Kirito. Although it ended in just a few seconds, it was long enough for Kirito to prove that he can protect Asuna.
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Heathcliff was the avatar of Kayaba Akihiko, the creator of Sword Art Online. He placed himself as the leader of the Knights of the Blood guild, the biggest and most powerful in SAO. Their guild led every expedition under the objective of clearing all the floors as soon as possible. Asuna is her Vice-Captain. Although their relationship as depicted in the anime series is only as companions, Heathcliff is protective towards Asuna. He thought of Asuna as an important piece in their guild which is why he challenged Kirito to a duel. If Kirito wins, he can leave with Asuna without further complications concerning the Knights of the Blood. However, if the duel’s result favors Heathcliff, Kirito will be forced to join their guild.
The duel did not last long. Kirito’s gear is far from shabby. He can even hold his ground against a couple of monsters without a party. Despite being an offensive behemoth, Kirito was clearly outmatched against Heathcliff’s defense. He wielded a huge shield which blocked every attack Kirito mustered.. This was happening while Kirito is slowly losing hit points from Heathcliff’s weak but precise attacks. Kirito turned the tide of the battle around by using dual swords. He somehow overpowered Heathcliff’s defense and was about to land the decisive blow when Heathcliff did something that shocked Kirito.
Gleam Eyes was the 74th Floor boss. They needed to beat 100 floors in order to finish the game and come back to the real world. Although it’s the boss of a floor that is still considerably far from their intended final destination, Gleam Eyes is a fearful opponent. It’s huge and muscular frame alone are enough to scare even the bravest vanguards in the front line.
Every previous boss battle were carefully planned to minimize casualty and optimize the use of resources but it was not the case against Gleam Eyes. Kirito and Asuna long with Klien and his guild members were force to engage it. They were left with no choice since they need to do so in order to save a group of soldiers from being slaughtered. Despite Kirito’s warning, they mindlessly fought the boss thinking that their superiority in numbers alone is enough to deal with it. Kirito was hesitant at first but Asuna gave in to her compassion and rushed to help the weary soldiers before it was too late. Her growing feelings toward Asuna and his past experience when he lost party members convinced Kirito to step in. It was obviously hopeless battle. At one point, Asuna and Klein already accepted their inevitable fate. But then again, they were clueless about Kirito’s trump card.