Sword Art Online II: Episode 15

The Queen of the Lake – 湖の女王

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We seemed to have went forward a few months and it’s back to the beautiful dreamy world of ALO once again with Sinon as the newest addition to Kirito’s harem.

The discovery of Excalibur
Kirito and Leafa (Sugu) were swallowed by a worm monster on the Arun plateau (somewhere in Alfheim) and dropped down to the world of Jotunheimr, a world beneath Alheim. They saw a humanoid mob attacking another mob which looked like a cross between an elephant and a jelly-fish. At Leafa’s request, they rescued the elephant jelly-fish from the humanoid and befriended it, naming it “Tonkii”. Tonkii let them ride on its back and sent them to a pathway which will lead back to Alfheim. On the way, they saw an inverted pyramid hanging from the base of the World Tree and right at the bottom, was the Holy Sword Excalibur, the sword we first saw during Kirito’s fight in Oberon during the ALO arc. The Excalibur is a legendary epic weapon which many sword-using players, including Kirito, want to get their hands on.

Soon, many other players discovered the location of Excalibur too, but via rather different methods from Kirito and Leafa. It was rumoured that certain players were shown the position of Excalibur after they killed a certain number of monsters and for that reason, there have been massacres of monsters going on in the frosty world of Jotunheimr. It came across as a rather violent quest for the entire gang, but personally I thought it was rather normal to have slaughter quests in games. After getting ready, the gang (Kirito, Asuna, Yui, Leafa, Silica, Lisbeth, Sinon and Klein) sets off for Jotunheimr, only to see that the rumours were true; lots of players were wandering around and actually getting humanoids to assist them in killing the Tonkiis. What on earth was going on?

Quest: Holy Sword of the Frozen Palace
Just when we were wandering what all these means, a huge woman appears behind the gang and reveals herself to be the Queen of the lake, Urd. She then explains to them what has happened to Jotunheimr, turning it into the frosty wasteland we now see it as. Well, I had thought that having Jotunheimr as a winter wonderland might be rather fitting, since every RPG should have different worlds with different appearances right? Anyway, Jotunheimr wasn’t supposed to be covered in snow, it once received the World Tree’s blessings and was a lush green place just like Alfheim. However, the King of the Frosty land Niflheim below Jotunheim. Thrym sneaked into Jotunheimr and threw Excalibur into the lake of Urd. That effectively cut off the root of the World Tree from Jotunheimr, resulting in the currently situation we see right now. The lake became a block of ice and elevated into the skies, leaving a gaping hole between the two realms. Thryms’ frost giants infiltrated Jotunheimr from the hole and built many strongholds in the now snow-covered land. The hill giants who once lived in harmony on Jotunheimr were imprisoned Unsatisfied with what he has done, Thrym’s next goal is to make his way up to the world of Alfheim. He built a castle, Thrymheim, in the block of ice, which used to be the lake of Urd, and plan to elevate Thrymheim onto the surface of Alfheim. However, to do that, he has to deplete Urd’s powers and he has been trying to annihilate all the hill giants and their servants in order to achieve that.

That sounded like a whole lot of information. For starters, I didn’t even know there was another realm beneath Alfheim so it was rather difficult for me to handle all the difficult names at a go. In a nutshell, what Kirito and gang has to do, is to infiltrate into Thrymheim, defeat Thrym and remove Excalibur from where it currently is. Sounds easy, for now.

Expectations
I’m glad we’re back to the magical land again, no more guns and post-apocalyptic settings for now. I felt that this episode was rather sudden and the GGO arc, though nicely concluded, still ended rather abruptly. What happened to the third perpetuator? Are we going to meet him here? How are they going to incorporate the “death in real life” element into this arc?

On the other hand, I thought that the AI element is rather interesting in this arc; since both Thrym and Urd seems to have evolved from a normal NPC into an AI with their own wills. Although Yui has been around since the SAO era, she wasn’t as interesting as Thrym or Urd. Having read Half Prince (oops, spoiler for those who haven’t), I wonder if SAO II can handle this sort of plot as well as Half Prince did. So far, I can’t really tell if this show is going to turn out well and I might not be able to judge until the end. We’ll just wait and see.

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