SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE TITITULAR SHOW.So I watched the first half, the GGO arc, as it was coming out on Crunchyroll. It was bullshit and we won't speak of it ever except to laugh at it. Because it was so bad I abandoned all hope of the series ever rising to defeat my expectations and contented myself with other shows skipping the second half. Lo and behold my surprise when someone told me Kirito wasn't the protagonist of the second half. "Well," I said. "I guess I'll watch it then since a lot of my complaints are about the stupid harem thing." I was highly skeptical that thry would do it but they did. After a pointless arc involving the discovery of Excalibur, Kirito was promptly shoved away from the main plot like the collossal tool that he is and Asuna finally gets a chance to shine.
Of course the ending ruined it but I'm getting ahead of myself.
See, the arc is about Asuna joining up with a guild who wants to take on one of the uber-powerful floor bosses. Why they want to do that is unknown but what is known is that they are lead by an incredibly powerful swords-woman named Yuki who can kick Kirito's ass. Yes, the almighty Kirito gets his ass kicked. That alone is worth the price of admission. Eventually it's revealled that the entire guild is made of terminal patients who live in virtual reality, explaining their almost supernatural skill in a way that's not "I'm superpowered" the way Kirito's is. The arc examines how technologies like Virtual Reality and other such advances can help with how patients interact with the world. It's pretty interesting.
Now for the ending. The ending starts with Yuki dying which was forshadowed from miles away. The main cast then deals with the aftermath where its discovered that... everything the terminally ill patients were using was designed by Kayaba Akhihiko, the generic big bad of the setting who was responsible for the original VRMMO "People die when they are killed" death game that the first half of the first season of the anime takes place in. Ever since then there's been this huge push towards "humanizing him that's completely retarded. This is a man who tortured and killed people for fun! I'm supposed to sympathize with this asshole! Fuck you! I like sociopaths as protagonists but they need to at least face consequences for their actions.
Overall, this season is an improvement over the others, but it suffers from the ongoing characterization of Kayaba and Kirito that's thoroughly uninteresting or even pisses me off as it goes on. Maybe next season will be good.