Return (帰還, Kikan?) is the fifteenth episode of the Sword Art Online anime adaptation, as well as the first episode in the Fairy Dance Arc. It aired on October 13, 2012.

Plot[edit | edit source]

One peaceful day, Asuna and Kirito were sitting on a rocking chair outside of their home on the 22nd Floor. As Kirito gazed at the girl while she slept, the sky suddenly began to darken and the house began to collapse. Panicking, Kirito attempted to find Asuna but to no avail. Left only with the rocking chair at his side, the boy began to hyperventilate, before suddenly awaking from what was revealed to have been just a nightmare. Finding tears streaking from his eyes, he invoked Asuna's name in disparaging himself for crying.

Kazuto's observing his cousin's practice in the real world.

Kirigaya Suguha was outside having her morning practice with her shinai while having flashbacks of all the events that had happened during and after the Sword Art Online incident. She was not aware that Kazuto (Kirito) was watching her. Kazuto tossed her a water bottle and held her shinai, stating that it was light. This shocked Suguha because the shinai was made of timber bamboo and was considered heavy, she wonders what he was comparing the shinai to. Kazuto then challenged Suguha to a kendo match. In an attempt to intimidate Kazuto, she asked if he could stand a chance against a quarter-finalist in a middle school nationals but also question his physical state, regarding his body. He reassured her that he could and would show her the results of all the rehabilitation he had done in the gym.

Suguha and Kazuto sparring in the Dojo.

At their family's dojo, the two were about to begin, when Suguha giggled at Kazuto's stance, but Kazuto proclaimed it was his personal style. Suguha could see an opening in his stance to attack, but Kazuto attacked first. Eventually Suguha won by hitting his head, but quickly regretted hitting him, asking if he was alright. Kazuto told her that she is strong and Heathcliff (Kayaba Akihiko) would not stand a chance against her. Kazuto took a few steps back and swung to sheath the shinai like he did with his sword in SAO, leaving Suguha confused and concerned. Realizing what he was doing, he told Suguha that it was old habits. While washing up, Kazuto notified Suguha that he wanted to do kendo again and asked if she could teach him, much to her delight. Suguha asked what Kazuto was doing that day and Kazuto responded he would be visiting Asuna in the hospital as usual, which made Suguha upset.

It has been two months since Kirito had cleared Sword Art Online by defeating Heathcliff. Upon being released from the death game, Kazuto traded information about SAO to the Ministry of Internal Affair's SAO Incident Task Force in exchange for Asuna's whereabouts. From a representative of the task force, he learnt that three hundred players, including Asuna, had yet to awake. It was widely believed that the still-missing Kayaba Akihiko was behind it. Kazuto noted that the SAO incident was not over yet.

Kazuto, Yuuki Shouzou, and Sugou Nobuyuki at the hospital.

Having arrived at the hospital, Kazuto visited Asuna in her room, still held prisoner by her NerveGear. Moments later, he was joined by Yuuki Shouzou, Asuna's father, and Sugou Nobuyuki. Shouzou exchanged greetings with Kazuto and introduced Nobuyuki to him as a family friend's son. Nobuyuki acted overjoyed at learning that Kazuto was the hero who had saved the players from the death game, before addressing Shouzou that he wanted to make something they had discussed about official. Shocked, Shouzou asked if the man was certain with his decision, since he was still young. Nobuyuki reassured him that his heart had always been set on one thing and wanted Asuna to wear the dress while she was still beautiful, surprising Kazuto.

Once Shouzou had left the room, Nobuyuki abandoned his acting, grabbing Asuna's hair to sniff it and thus angering Kazuto. Nobuyuki explained that the chat he had had with Shouzou was regarding Asuna's marriage to him, shocking the boy even more. Nobuyuki informed Kazuto while touching Asuna's face that she never liked him, and it was likely that she would reject his marriage proposal, so he was taking advantage of the situation to marry her. Kazuto grabbed Nobuyuki's arm to stop him from touching Asuna, but he pulled back. Annoyed, Kazuto asked if he was trying to take advantage of the fact Asuna was in a coma. Nobuyuki told him that it was his right. Nobuyuki further explained that Argus went bankrupt and the SAO servers were entrusted to RECT Progress Inc., whose CEO was Asuna's father. Nobuyuki worked under the Full-Dive Technology Research Division, concluding that he was the one who is keeping Asuna alive and thought he can ask for a repayment. He then told Kazuto to never come back or have any contact with Asuna's family. Before leaving, Nobuyuki told Kazuto that the wedding was in one week and seeking to bring misery to Kazuto, invited him to the wedding.

Suguha putting Kazuto sleep.

That evening at the Kirigaya Residence, Suguha knocked on her cousin's door to let him know that the bath was ready. Receiving no response from Kazuo, the girl checked inside the room, where she found the boy sitting on his bed with the heating off. Kazuto asked Suguha to leave him alone. Seeing her brother upset, Suguha comforted him and asked what was wrong. Kazuto began to cry because Asuna was going somewhere far that he couldn't reach. Suguha hugged Kazuto and told him not to give up. When Kazuto fell asleep, Suguha put him into bed and fell asleep next to him, but cried as she did so.

In a flashback prior to Kazuto's 16th birthday, while he was trapped in SAO, his aunt Kirigaya Midori told Suguha, when Kazuto was just 10 years old, he found out about his real parents. His parents died in an accident and Kazuto was Midori's nephew, making Kazuto and Suguha cousins, not siblings. Suguha asked if that was the reason he began to play online games. Midori replied that that was not the reason, as Kazuto was already into making machines from junk parts when he was young and believed he inherited her own love of computers. Suguha is surprised that her "brother" was actually her cousin.

A photo of an Asuna look-alike sent by Agil.

The next morning, Kazuto tried to wake Suguha up by telling her that she wouldn't have time for her morning practice if she didn't get up soon. Suguha eventually got up but got embarrassed and ran out of Kazuto's room, blushing furiously. Kazuto, now alone, recalled Suguha's encouraging words. Without any warning, his computer bleeped to inform Kirito about an e-mail had been received from Agil, and the message showed a picture of a girl in a golden cage who greatly resembled Asuna, surprising Kazuto.

New Characters[edit | edit source]

Locations[edit | edit source]

Adaptation Notes[edit | edit source]

Adapted from Volume 3, Prologue and Chapter 1

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Kirito's dream at the beginning of the episode was an example of what it would feel like if all of a player's input signals were severed while the player was still inside FullDive space.[† 1][1]

Quotes[edit | edit source]

  • "She's going to go away, somewhere I can't ever reach her.." - Kazuto
  • "You can't give up on the one you love so easily" - Suguha
  • "I won't lie to myself anymore either" - Suguha
  • "I think he inherited my love of computers.. At least mentally" - Kirigaya Midori
  • "But your heart... belongs to her alone" - Suguha

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Such a phenomenon could have occurred when all of the players were disconnected from the internet during their transport to hospitals.

References[edit | edit source]

Navigation[edit | edit source]

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Manga Aincrad Volume 01 - Volume 02
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Anime Season I - Aincrad Arc Episode 01 - Episode 02 - Episode 03 - Episode 04 - Episode 05 - Episode 06 - Episode 07 - Episode 08 - Episode 09 - Episode 10 - Episode 11 - Episode 12 - Episode 13 - Episode 14
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Sword Art Offline Episode 01 - Episode 02 - Episode 03 - Episode 04 - Episode 05 - Episode 06 - Episode 07 - Episode 08 - Episode 09 - Extra Edition
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