We now return to what’s happening with Kirito and Eugeo in the game world. We quickly learn through dialogue that a two-year timeskip has occurred since they left the village a couple of episodes ago, and through a quick flashback, the audience is told about how the two of them trained in sword fighting before joining Swordcraft Academy, where they currently are pages in training.
OK, I don’t know if the story was written this way in the light novel, or if the scriptwriter for the anime decided to skip over those two years so they could get to this point in the story. Regardless of who’s to blame, I feel there was a missed opportunity here. From the flashback we saw, it looked like there was potential for at least one or two episodes showing the audience what happened in the two years that were skipped. As that old saying goes for writers: “Show, don’t tell.”
We see that there are very strict rules at the academy, especially regarding curfew and not training on days of rest. This makes sense when you think about how the Integrity Knights have such stringent rules for the inhabitants of the game world. As pages, Kirito and Eugeo are ultimately trying to become Integrity Knights.
Through training with his senpai and seeing some of what goes on at the academy, the viewer sees that there are upperclassmen who look down on the page trainees like Eugeo and Kirito, and that a couple of them seem to have it out for Kirito.
While this is going on, Kirito has a new sword made from some of the sacred tree that he helped to cut down before leaving the village. It’s a heavy sword, and Kirito surprises the metalworker when he can wield it easily.
Kirito has an unfortunate run-in with the top ranked swordsman in the academy’s graduating class, and this leads to him challenging Kirito to a fight with real swords. Kirito accepts, and this is where the episode ends.
Right now, it seems that the two sides of the story (the story taking place in the game world and the story taking place in the real world) aren’t going to be told in the same episode outside of the first one. To be honest, I don’t know how I feel about this. One of the one hand, focusing on one side or the other for a few episodes means less jumping around and less to keep track of in an episode. However, by not intercutting the story in an episode, I find myself having this feeling of wondering what’s going on in the other world going on in the back of my head. I guess as long as the viewer ultimately learns all the important information, it doesn’t entirely matter how the story is told. But I’m still a little disappointed that there was a two year timeskip, and it appears there were events with action that couple be important in the story that was skipped.
But the setup for the duel between Kirito and the top-ranked swordsman at the academy was well done, and hopefully there will be plenty of action on the next episode to help make up for the fact that this episode felt like it was more about exposition and providing information than it was on providing any action or any real progression for the story.