This post finishes up the second season of Sword Art Online. After the Gun Gale Online arc with essentially only Kirito and Sinon participating, the second half of the SAO II season brings the rest of the original SAO cast back into the picture. There is a short arc in which Kirito and Asuna and friends, plus Sinon, take on an afternoon quest in Elfhame Online. It involves the whole gang and retrieving a magic sword, as well as restoring a dead and mostly abandoned land to life. Leafa and Klein have slightly more roles in this arc than in other arcs, and Liz and Silica are also part of the questing team. Of course, the gang wins the quest and Kirito gets another sword. This little quest is a filler quest and doesn’t occur in the SAO light novels.
The last of the second season is the arc called Mother Rosario. It begins with challenge fights between a mysterious fighter in Elfhame who sets up and offers a chance to win a prize to anyone who can challenge the fighter and win. Most of the people in Elfhame Online give it a try, but no one can beat the fighter. Asuna gives it a try and they battle essentially to a draw, at which point the fighter grabs Asuna and drags her away to talk. The fighter turns out to be a girl named Yuuki who is a member of a guild called the Sleeping Knights.
The Sleeping Knights have a goal to beat a level boss and win that level. If a single guild beats a level boss, they get their individual names inscribed on a great memorial wall in Elfhame’s primary city. If more than one Guild beats the boss together, only the guild names are inscribed. The Sleeping Knights are going to have to stop playing Elfhame Online, so they want their names inscribed on the wall before they go. The problem is that there are only 6 of them, a number of players which normally cannot beat a boss. They have decided to recruit one person who can beat their strongest fighter, Yuuki – and that person is Asuna.
Asuna agrees to help Yuuki and the Sleeping Knights. They become friends while training and discussing strategy. They try a boss level for practice and fail, but they discover that they failed an earlier attempt because a bigger Guild is spying on them and using their experience to plan and defeat the boss before they can get back to it. When Asuna realizes this bit of information, she encourages the Sleeping Knights to go immediately and try this boss again. They do, only to find their way blocked by members of the bigger guild who are there to keep anyone from trying until the big guild all gets there and takes the boss. Asuna and Yuuki-tachi fight their way through the guild members, aided in the nick of time by Kirito, who holds off the big guild while Asuna-tachi tackle the boss.
Asuna, Yuuki and the Sleeping Knights succeed in defeating the boss and get their names on the Wall. During the celebration at Asuna’s Elfhame house, Asuna says she wants to stay friends with the guild and learn more about them. Yuuki gets upset and logs out. Asuna begins searching for her in both virtual reality (VR) and real life (RL).
With Kirito’s help Asuna locates Yuuki, who is dying from a virus she got at birth. In fact she’s been dying since birth, and is the last of her family alive. It turns out all the Sleeping Knights have terminal illnesses, which is why they wanted so much to win their quest and have their names memorialized on the wall.
The last three episodes of this season are TRAGIC. Really TRAGIC, with Yuuki dying in Asuna's arms at the end, and leaving Asuna her sword skill, Mother Rosario. Be prepared to cry. Despite the tragedy, I enjoyed this season of SAO almost as much as the first season. The characters are still fun to follow as they deal with both RL and VR and come to terms with their hangups. Asuna’s mother has been trying to get her to give up online gaming and switch to a better school, so along the way in this arc Asuna and her mother manage to come to terms, thanks to Yuuki.
Sword Art Online, both seasons, have been following the light novels fairly closely. This second season ends at the end pf the 7th volume of the light novels. Despite the ending of this season being pretty definitive, I'm kind of hoping they do another season of SAO, because the story and characters are interesting and fun to follow.