Unital Ring Arc of Sword Art Online Revives a Character Long Overlooked

“The latest arc of the Sword Art Online light novels brings back a classic character, and it could signal the end of the long-running series. While the anime still has a ways to go, one of the first iterations of Sword Art Online is slowly drawing to a close. The light novels are now in their seemingly final arc, with the “Unital Ring” storyline being the series’ curtain call. To this end, it’s bringing back characters from the story’s beginning, including an information broker who hasn’t been seen in a long time.

Argo the Rat, though not a main character, played a vital part in the “Aincrad” storyline during the early stages of Sword Art Online. She emerged in the initial arc as one of the 10,000 players trapped in the game. Interestingly, Argo, whose real name is Hosaka Carina Tomo, was not only a beta tester but also an information broker. Rather than exploiting her knowledge solely for personal gain, she became a businesswoman selling information and secrets about the game through guides. Despite charging a fee for her services, Argo’s clues and tips were likely invaluable in helping many players survive. Even Kirito, the protagonist, sought her assistance, and she willingly provided him with aid.

It is intriguing that Argo managed to survive in the treacherous world of Aincrad for an extended period, considering she believed herself ill-suited for combat and adventure. After Kirito defeated Heathcliff and the surviving players were freed from the game, Argo’s role expanded further in the Sword Art Online: Progressive movies and novels. These works offered a retelling of the “Aincrad” arc, delving deeper into the world surrounding it. It was through this progression that Argo gained prominence in the animated adaptation, as the original anime series only made passing references to her. Progressive elevated her from a mere plot device, showcasing her development and even depicting her acquisition of martial arts skills. While the movie versions of Progressive propelled her to greater recognition, her return in the new chapters of the light novel series could potentially reshape her status once they are adapted into anime form.

The return of Argo the Rat holds significance beyond her individual presence. It sets the stage for the conclusion of Sword Art Online as a whole. Following the events of the “Aincrad” arc, Argo/Tomo resumed her normal life and attended high school. Her experiences during the Aincrad incident made her a perfect fit as a writer for an MMO magazine. Additionally, she joined a school for Sword Art Online survivors, illustrating how the traumatic events of the game had an unexpected positive impact on her life. However, beyond the Progressive series, she had not played a prominent role in the subsequent arcs. That changes with the arrival of the “Unital Ring” arc, which diverges from previous storylines.

Unlike the previous arcs, “Unital Ring” is an entirely new arc in the light novel series and is intended to be the final installment of the main storyline. As the series approaches its conclusion, it reintroduces characters who were present at the inception of the story. In the light novels, Argo/Tomo undergoes further character development and finds herself in unfamiliar circumstances. Her journey commences with a meeting with Kirito at his school, effectively completing the circle by making her a vital part of the subsequent “Unital Ring” plot. Interestingly, some fans had speculated that she had died off-screen at some point, but her return dispels those assumptions. The return of a character from the initial arc serves as a clear indicator that the beginning of the end has arrived for Sword Art Online.”

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