Besides Kirito and Asuna, Sword Art Online introduced another character’s romantic desires, but they seem to have been forgotten over time.
Kazuto “Kirito” Kirigaya and Asuna Yūki are Sword Art Online two most passionate lovers by far. From their two years trapped in Aincrad, they developed a bond so strong that they would live and die for each other. This is why SAO, despite its male to female ratio, is a romance anime, not a harem anime. This is also why anyone who has ever searched for Kirito’s heart has never had luck.
Of all the other girls who were interested in Kirito, Suguha “Leafa” Kirigaya had to be the most romantic. However, after the “Fairy Dance” arc, her romantic feelings went largely unexplored. As controversial as her love for her cousin is, she doesn’t deserve to go home empty-handed. Perhaps there is a clue as to how his future love pursuits might fit into the story of ODS.
When Suguha was officially introduced in Season 1 Episode 15, “Return”, it was obvious that she resented Kazuto. She was flirtatious, though that could easily be interpreted as sisterly playfulness. That’s probably why, when she went too far (like spending the night in Kazuto’s bed), her love interest never caught on. Either way, the message was clear enough for the audience – Suguha loved Kirito.
Despite Suguha’s feelings, she remains well aware of her position with Kazuto. Although she understands that it’s wrong to have romantic relationships with blood relatives, that doesn’t stop her from wanting it. What stops her, however, is that she realizes how much Kazuto cares about Asuna and only has eyes for her. These two facts together are what really makes him realize that they could never be. With that, she concedes defeat.
Suguha was able to distract herself from her wounded heart by playing Alfheim Online. In this game, she embodies the powerful Sylph Leafa. She is quick and maneuverable with her sword and magic spells. She also makes friends quickly, as seen in her first interaction with Kirito. For Suguha, ALO was a chance for all kinds of new opportunities.
Unfortunately, Leafa got a little too attached to Kirito. She never realized it was actually Kazuto, so she ended up falling in love with him again. It made it completely devastating when she realized the truth in episode 22, “The Grand Quest”. Fortunately, the two were able to reconcile in episode 23, “Bonds”. However, after being heartbroken twice, it’s no wonder Suguha wasn’t quick to go back in search of love.
Suguha may not have her first love, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end for her. Her pursuit of Kirito proves that she’s at least open to being with someone other than her cousin. It’s just a matter of who can fill the role.
So far, the best option offered for Suguha by the ODS the narrative is Shinichi “Recon” Nagata. He seems to like her, although she struggles to return his feelings. She may also have waited to respond to his advances as long as she felt like she had a chance with someone else like Kazuto or Kirito. Now that those two possibilities are out of the question, Recon might have a chance.
Either way, it would be nice to see Suguha’s more affectionate side get the development it deserves. She is one of the few girls in the main cast who tries to follow through on her romantic feelings. Having her go through everything she did in the “Fairy Dance” Arc just being another one of Kirito’s friends would be a waste.
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