|Spoiler Alert: This article or section contains details about plotlines not covered in the anime. Do not proceed unless you wish to be spoiled. |
Konno Aiko (紺野 藍子, Konno Aiko?) was the founder and leader of the «Sleeping Knights» guild, a group of terminally ill patients who played VRMMO games, and the elder twin sister of Konno Yuuki. Because of the onset of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, she was hospitalised at the Yokohoma General Hospital and registered for a virtual reality (VR) hospice named Serene Garden for palliative care. Due to Merida's influence, Aiko started playing actual virtual reality games, such as Asuka Empire, where she chose to be a spell user and later advanced to being a miko. Her in-game name was Ran (ラン, Ran?).
Serene Garden Avatar
Since avatars in Serene Garden are based on actual photos of the users, Aiko's avatar was greatly similar to her real life appearance. She wore a green one piece dress that matched her sister's.
Asuka Empire Avatar
The facial features of Aiko's avatar in Asuka Empire differed subtly from her real life appearance. She was initially dressed in a simple but cute kimono, but later switched to a miko outfit after advancing her class.
Despite being born on the same day as her younger sister, Aiko tenderly shielded and protected her younger sister Yuuki for as long as Yuuki could remember. Aiko was also a decisive and self-sacrificing person who conceded her chance to be a Medicuboid tester and be admitted to a cleanroom, where the risk of opportunistic infection was far lower than in a regular ward, to her sister without a moment of hesitation. Aiko was so decisive that Yuuki barely ever witnessed her brooding over anything. According to Yuuki, Aiko also possessed great empathy.
Konno Aiko was born on May 23, 2010. Due to dystocia, a caesarean section had to be performed, but an accident caused a large amount of bleeding and thus a blood transfusion was given. However, the blood was infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), which causes the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), thus Aiko and her younger twin sister were infected with the virus.
On May 11, 2024, Ran and her younger twin sister Yuuki went to their special gathering spot in Serene Garden, and while they were gathering, Ran noticed a very rare insect. Moments after Yuuki caught it, a bug hunter girl saw them and screamed in frustration that the bug she had been chasing was caught. Since Yuuki was troubled about what to do with her caught beetle, Ran placed her hand on Yuuki's shoulder and encouraged her to let the girl have the bug. Seeing that the girl looked dejected as she did not have anything to trade for the beetle, Ran proposed to have Yuuki name it in return. After the girls introduced each other, the insect hunter named Merida invited the two to the village to continue their conversation over snacks.
At the village, Merida took Ran and Yuuki to a special cafe far away from the main streets. There, the three girls ordered three plates of crepes. At the end of the meal, Merida asked whether the sisters had been playing any other games. Hearing that they had only been to Serene Garden and were too concerned about the price of games to buy any, Merida invited them to play a free-to-play game called Asuka Empire. Since the game had sweet red bean soup which Ran really liked, she became very tempted to try the game. Thus, the girls agreed to meet the following day in Asuka Empire.
The next day, Aiko and Yuuki logged into Asuka Empire, where they met up with Merida. After Merida explained about the classes in the game, she took the sisters to the capital for them to begin the quest to choose their classes. Ran chose to be a spell user and, with Merida's help, Ran and Yuuki completed their initiation quest in two hours. The trio then went to a restaurant to celebrate.
Several days later, on May 16, 2024, Ran and Yuuki completed the quest for advancing their classes with Merida's help, and went to a restaurant to celebrate. During the conversation over the meal, Yuuki accidentally revealed that she was not using the AmuSphere, but since she could not reveal that she was a Medicuboid tester, Ran instead claimed that they were both using modified NerveGears.
The trio continued playing Asuka Empire together for the next few days, occasionally checking on Merida's beetle in Serene Garden. But two days before the birthday of the Konno twins, Merida asked to visit them at their hospital to celebrate. The two sisters spent some time pondering Merida's proposal, as Yuuki would not be able to meet with Merida due to confidentiality concerns, but Aiko convinced Yuuki to trust Merida, and they agreed.
However, on May 23, while Aiko was using the restroom, Merida put on Aiko's modified NerveGear, leaving a letter which claimed that she had dived into Sword Art Online. Aiko informed Yuuki of the event and convinced her to go to Serene Garden instead of calling the doctor. She led Yuuki to the place where they first met Merida, and there they found her squatting at the roots of a tree with the cage of her beetle open. Ran attempted to persuade Merida not to proceed with her plan, but since she was having trouble with it, Yuuki promised to find a purpose for Merida to live for and challenged her to a duel in Asuka Empire as a way to convey her feelings.
After Yuuki won the duel, Ran proposed forming a guild with the three of them, inviting others who were in a similar situation to join them, and Merida tearfully accepted the invitation.
- The name Aiko (藍子?) comes from the kanji for Japanese indigo (藍, Ai?) and child (子, Ko?), which is a common ending character for girls. The first character was chosen because Aiko was born when the Japanese indigo blooms.
- Aiko chose an alternative reading of the first kanji in her real name (藍) as the name of her avatar.
- Like her mother, Aiko was scared of insects.
- According to Doctor Kurahashi and Yuuki, Aiko was greatly similar to Asuna.
- According to Sisters' Prayer Part 5, Yuuki's fourteenth birthday was on May 23, 2024.
- Aiko died about a year before Asuna met Yuuki, according to Volume 7, Chapter 9.
- Sisters' Prayer Part 1
- Sisters' Prayer Part 6
- Sisters' Prayer Part 2
- Sisters' Prayer Part 4
- Sisters' Prayer Part 5
- Sisters' Prayer Part 3
- Volume 7, Chapter 8
- Yuuki's Q&A session in the 3rd popularity contest by Kunori Fumio (EX00 Face to Face)