The Changes at the Beginning and the Final Stage
Generally speaking, anime often has to condense and drop parts from the source material due to time limitations. As we have seen above, many parts of the SAO novel were cut to create this episode. The changes are especially evident at the beginning and the final stage of the episode.
The episode begins with the scene of Lisbeth sharpening Asuna’s sword, and after the opening sequence, Kirito is entering her shop. In the novel, a brief depiction of her is given: how she opened her shop in this location, what she wears, what her hair is like, and what she is like in the real world.
These depictions are given to develop her character in the reader’s mind. I think the reason why the depiction is dropped is because the anime series deals with the episode within the chronological order of the plot, whereas the novel has it as an independent short story.
In the anime, the episode is a part of the main story and therefore it can’t interrupt its flow. However, it is not shown as part of the main story of the novel, and Lisbeth can be depicted in more detail as the heroine. In my opinion, the differences in the depiction of Lisbeth between the anime and the novel lie in such reasons.
The novel depicts Kirito demonstrating his dual blade skill to Lisbeth, confessing how he was the sole survivor of an attack on his guild , and promising to meet her again in the real world at the final stage of the story. Such scenes are all skipped in the anime, which I personally think is the most regrettable change of all.
As a solo player who has an introverted personality, Kirito hardly talks about himself. He is especially reluctant to talk about his dual blade skill and his painful past with the annihilation of the guild except for him, even to the people who are close to him. However, he discloses his skill and past to Lisbeth, which demonstrated Kirito’s growing affection for and his trust in Lisbeth.
Viewers of the anime can detect Kirito’s affection for Lisbeth in the anime, though the depictions in the novel which I’ve listed above can explain how much he cares about her more clearly. Furthermore, his promise to meet her in the real world gives readers some fun in imagining their reunion. As a keen reader of the light novels who also watched the anime, I was disappointed in the changes at the final stage. I feel these parts could have been handled with more consideration.
Swords and Changes
Some parts of the original novel are condensed and sometimes dropped to make them fit into the anime episode. Some of the changes impressed me, and some made me wonder of what could have been done better. I’d like you to read the light novel and watch the episode once more to check the differences!