|“||No, you look here, and listen. Those two kids didn’t ask to be trapped in a death game! Just like the rest of us, and they certainly didn’t set out to get robbed or assaulted by another player. You need to back off. Like it or not, your attitude is not helping their confidence.||„|
|~ Excerpt from SAOK: The Eventful Taurus, were Airi admonishes Kusaka for his poor attitude regarding the twins.|
|Real Name||Airi Natsume|
|Height||151 cm (4'11½")|
|Weight||39 kg (86 lbs)|
|VR Played||«Sword Art Online»|
|Appears In||«Sword Art Online (Kenji)»|
Airi Natsume (愛莉 奈爪), known by the username Asuka (明寿花), was one of the 10,000 players trapped in «Sword Art Online». Unlike many other players Airi did not discriminate against beta testers, instead coming into the confidence of no less than three: Kenji Hiroshi, Kusaka Kori, and Ino Choyo. She was a founding member of a clearer guild called «Brightscale» and was a willing ally to many other middle-of-the-road guilds, namely «Last Remnant». Per the beginning of the SAO Incident Airi was a student in the third grade of upper secondary school.
Airi served as the primary supporting character of Part I, a background character in the Inbetweeners side-stories, the main point-of-view character of the Intermission chapters, and is slated to be a major supporting character in Part II.
Airi is a petite black-haired girl with a slight build and light brown-coloured eyes. Her hair is jaw-length, neatly styled, with a purple ribbon and clip on the left-hand side. The only members of the initial «Brightscale» line-up who were shorter and lighter than Airi were the twins.[Notes 1]
A player's physical profile or appearance could change under certain circumstances in Sword Art Online, either as a result of a Skill activating, or through use of an in-game item, such as hair dye. A notable example is when Airi activates her «Thieves Tools» «Composition», which turns Airi's usually brown-coloured eyes a distinct shade of purple.
Yoshiro and Kusaka were the first combative members of «Brightscale» to adopt casual attire. Momoko created a casual uniform rather than a strict battle uniform, allowing for the members of «Brightscale» to exhibit their own unique appearance when questing. The uniform she settled on was distinctly Eastern in design and consisted of a black-coloured kimono, white shitagi, black hakama, white ōbi, white tabi, waraji, and a simple armband with the «Brightscale» insignia emblazoned on its surface. Airi began wearing this uniform when she wasn't actively questing sometime before the 22nd of December 2022 and even when she wore it, she occasionally had her claws dangling from her belt as usual.
Like Kenji, Airi initially wore minimal protective gear, preferring cloth cloaks and light leather armour. She remarked that she disliked the thought of wearing heavy armour, calling it unattractive, but compromised following a near-death experience on the 1st Floor and equipped the «Lightweight Galerus» and «Lightweight Manica» given to her by Kenji. This gear covered her entire left arm up to the shoulder in tightly-weaved and lightweight armour. She wore her claws dangling from her belt but has also been shown wearing them casually on her hands like a set of gloves, with the blades safely retracted.
Exiles Threads & Cloak
Even when Kenji and her guild mates adopted a more protective load-out Airi continued to prioritize stealth with only slight metallic protection, and relied on the party's Tank. The «Lightweight Galerus» and «Lightweight Manica» given to her by Kenji on the 1st Floor continued to be worn on her left-arm as her only protective metallic equipment, though at an unspecified time she replaced her «Lightweight Galerus» and «Lightweight Manica» with similar, albeit more powerful, pieces, sometime before accessing the 20th Floor. Airi's first unique set of armour consisted of the Exiles Threads, which comprised the upper-body and leg slots, and the Exiles Cloak, which comprised the head and neck slots. The suit was a dark-brown studded leather jacket, the lower-half were tan-leggings, whilst the cloak was of a plain brown leather with a simple metallic clasp at the neck and a bonnet attachment. She later added the «Sheath Knife Belt» to her waist slot, which held three «Throwing Picks», and the «Stalker Boots» to her feet, which were given to her by Kenji. Both pieces of equipment were dropped by the «Fallen Elf Commander» on the 3rd Floor and served to replace her initial equipment pieces.
Airi's next set of unique equipment, known in-game as the «Wyrm-breaker Suit», came in the days following the publication of the «Sunburst Forest» edition of the «Dungeon Delvers» series published by «Last Remnant», which saw «Brightscale» engage their first proper Dragon-type monster. The jacket, sleeveless, with a large and deep V-neck that almost reached the hem, showed a little more skin than Airi was comfortable with, but possessed a remarkable defensive strength compared to her prior outfits and allowed for her complete freedom of movement. To address its revealing nature she wore a simple white camisole underneath. Her arms, designed in the kote-style, featured red-coloured scales and black fabric, with fingerless gloves. When retracted this suit overrode the appearance of Airi's claws; they were only visible when she extended them for combat. The waist-slot consisted of a padded sash worn around the stomach, with a belt slightly further down with trailing tassels, both coloured pink. The footwear in use comprised both the foot and leg slots and consisted of a long pair of thigh-length leather boots, coloured black, with three «Kunai» holstered on each leg. Airi rounded out this particular suit through her old «Exiles Cloak», which was the only piece she retained.
Airi is an energetic, sociable, and empathic personality. She is empathetic, finding it easy to imagine how someone feels in a situation, or read the currents of a room. This caring nature led her to support Kenji in his guardianship of Akiye and Momoko. It also led her to stand up for her friends, especially against the temperamental Kusaka or the sometimes childish Kenji, which clearly demonstrates her maturity in comparison. Because of her willingness to stand up to and challenge him when he was being difficult, Airi was one of the few people whom Kusaka genuinely respected. This was perhaps shown most strongly during the pitched battle with «Zagan the Exile». Kusaka, despite arguing at length with Airi the night before, instantly came to her defence when «Zagan» launched a surprise attack against her that would have proved fatal had it connected. In addition to her sociability, Airi looked after the mental welfare of her guild mates, and served as a confidant and sounding board for them when necessary. If they weren't comfortable talking about certain topics she encouraged her friends to write what they weren't comfortable talking about in a private journal as a means of venting their frustrations. She also looked out for the youngest members of «Brightscale», namely Akiye, Momoko, and Fujimaru, becoming something of a big sister to them. Fujimaru in particular benefited from her care as she helped him open up. She was the one who taught Fujimaru how to dance.
Her sociability and empathy aside, Airi has a devious streak and a playful side, very at odds with her usually displayed attitude. She often teased Kenji by remarking on his geekyness, liked to play pranks on Kusaka or generally bug him with questions, and even began amending Kenji's private journal entries with humorous amendments and observations. Her messages to Kenji often possessed a joking tone and their conversations often involved Airi ribbing Kenji, one notable example being when she called his grey hairs "distinguished".
Airi wasn't a gamer: Sword Art Online was the first game she played, and this was done mostly on a whim. She lacked basic gaming knowledge, examples being stat buffs, but was familiar with certain aspects, namely rare and randomized loot. By the time «Brightscale» was established as an official guild, Airi's knowledge had grown considerably, with her remarking that she had a good teacher in Kenji. She eventually noted herself that she had learned a good deal about the game and the system that ran it.
As frequently noted by Yoshiro -- who used it as a means of teasing her -- Airi is fascinated by treasure and has built her Skills in-game around this, resulting in her acquirement of the «Composite» collectively known as «Thieves Tools». This was of particular use during her guild's run through the «Dead Woods Mausoleum», with Kenji noting that Airi's focus was, at the time, unique to her alone. At the time it was almost unheard of for players to have anything other than combat-focused Skills slotted, and the few who did -- such as Fujimaru -- often faced ridicule. Her unique talents were further reinforced when other guilds requested Airi to serve as their scout when running the «Dead Woods Mausoleum» for themselves, which she was only too happy to do. This eventually became a source of personal income for Airi as she charged other guilds for her services dismantling traps.
One of her real-life characteristics that not only survived translation to Sword Art Online but actually flourished was her general love for food. Airi could best be described as a gourmet. She enjoys experiencing new flavours, with a marked preference for sweets and desserts, to the point Kenji began carrying small long-lasting treats around in his inventory which could be given to her at a moment's notice. In the real world she was an accomplished cook and although she did not possess the «Cooking» Skill in Sword Art Online, preferring Skills usable in combat or exploration instead, Airi frequently helped the young Momoko gather materials to cook with, resulting in a cookbook that was constantly evolving. This led to the development of the «Brightscale Eatery»: a shop attached to the main «Brightscale» guild ran by Momoko with Airi serving as a consultant regarding flavours, which offered food which more closely imitated its real-world counterpart.
Despite showing little fear standing up to the likes of Kusaka, or even fighting the likes of «Zagan the Exile», Airi is not without her fears. In the real world she is allergic to wasp and bee stings and given that even the smallest insect in Aincrad is 50 cm in length, her aversion is quite strong. Her fears also extend to the undead creatures first encountered by «Brightscale» during their exploration of the «Dead Woods Mausoleum», with Kenji noting on her discomfort engaging such monsters. She was able to partially overcome her discomfort however as she was more than willing to help other players navigate the various traps prevalent throughout the «Dead Woods Mausoleum». In addition to insects and undead, Airi likewise was uncomfortable with heights. This didn't effect her when she was inside an elevated structure, but it was especially noteworthy when she traversed heights in open spaces. Despite all of this, Airi is known particularly for her strength of character. Despite suffering numerous setbacks in Sword Art Online, chief amongst them no less than three near-death experiences in the month of December 2022 alone and facing a number of her personal fears since, she retained a confident outlook and caring persona.
Relationship with Kenji
|“||Look, you’ve been a sounding board for me before, right? I’ll admit that this whole thing with Sword Art Online jarred me quite a bit: you helped me deal with it, Kishi. So if you ever need to talk, just say the word.||„|
|~ Excerpt from SAOK: Roving Rovia, were Airi tells Kenji she's there if he needs to talk.|
Airi and Kenji met on the 3rd of December 2022, with Kenji and Kusaka coming to Airi's rescue against an «Alpha Dire Wolf». She was both impressed and intrigued by Kenji, who not only offered to allow her to party with them for her own safety, but also because he gifted her several pieces of lightweight protective gear to improve her paltry defences without want or thought of compensation. The pair shared an almost instant attraction, which was first noticed by Kusaka, and these feelings were reciprocated despite Kenji's initial hesitation regarding the feasibility of a relationship in Aincrad. Towards the end of 2022 the two began spending more time with one another outside monster farming and quest completion, and they eventually set aside a couple of days here and there to do absolutely nothing related to gaming, with Kenji openly asking Airi if she wanted to go on a date with him.
Their relationship was often a subject of debate amongst the «Brightscale» members, whether the pair happened to be present or not, with how intimate they were being a frequent question. Kenji kept tight-lipped about the physical aspects of their relationship but made no secret that he considered Airi his emotional support. The first to notice the attraction was Kusaka and it was he, in his capacity as Kenji's "wingman", that encouraged Kenji to pursue a relationship with Airi in the first place. Ino was also very interested in the "juicy details" of their relationship and frequently chided Airi regarding it, much to Airi's anger. This did not stop the pair becoming good friends however. Yoshiro and Sojiro showed little interest either way though Yoshiro was often on-hand with advice and experience as a married man.
Airi was one of the few people capable of talking Kenji around or, when he was being especially difficult, make him see sense. Kenji was going to go to great lengths to chide Fujimaru and Akiye regarding their closeness, but was immediately admonished by Airi, and he subsequently left the young pair alone. When she discovered that he had been teasing Fujimaru however she was quick to admonish him, with even Kusaka gulping in visible fear.
- Main article -- Sword Art Online (Kenji).
- SAOK: Unexpected Meetings
- SAOK: Pushing the Frontier
- SAOK: The Karma Scales
- SAOK: The Business of Grinding
- SAOK: The Moneymaking Crusade
- SAOK: The Twin Sword Conundrum
- SAOK: Roving Rovia
- SAOK: Braving the Depths
- SAOK: New Year Resolutions
|Level||5.||December 3rd 2022.|
|Level||8.||Airi gained levels quickly with Kusaka's help between the 4th and 7th of December. Was level 8 on the morning of December 7th 2022.|
|Level||9.||Evening of December 7th 2022, following almost an entire day of farming hunting grounds and completing quests with Kusaka, Yoshiro and Sojiro.|
|Level||12.||In the week between December 8th and December 14th 2022.|
|Level||13.||As of December 22nd 2022.|
|Level||14.||Achieved as of December 24th 2022.|
|Level||25.||As of January 27th 2023.|
|«Unnamed claws»||Claws||Initial Equipment||Replaced with the Dire Wolf Claws on December 4th 2022.|
|«Dire Wolf Claws»||Claws||Received as a rare monster drop on the 1st Floor on the evening of December 4th 2022.||Provides +3 to Agility and can inflict a DoT affect.|
Upgraded to +3 (3S) before December 7th 2022.
Upgraded to +5 (4S1A) between the 15th and 17th of December 2022.
Percentage chance to inflict DoT was 30% as of December 7th 2022.
Percentage chance to inflict DoT was 40% as of the period between the 15th and 17th of December 2022.
|«Throwing Picks»||Throwing Blade||Store-bought sometime prior to December 22nd 2022.||Does not impose an «Irregular Equipment State» when used alongside her claws due to her «Sheath Knife Belt».|
|«Cloak»||Cloth armour||Store-bought||Worn by Airi as of December 7th 2022.|
Replaced between the 15th and 17th of December 2022.
|«Leather gloves»||Leather armour||Store-bought||Original set included upper-body, legs, gloves and boots and was worn by Airi as of December 7th 2022.|
Upper-body and legs replaced between the 15th and 17th of December 2022.
Boots replaced on the 25th of December.
|«Lightweight Galerus»||Shoulder armour||Given to Airi by Kenji on the 1st Floor on December 4th 2022.||Combines with the «Lightweight Manica» to create a makeshift shield when used to block attacks.|
|«Lightweight Manica»||Arm armour||Given to Airi by Kenji on the 1st Floor on December 4th 2022.||Combines with the «Lightweight Galerus» to create a makeshift shield when used to block attacks.|
|«Exiles Threads»||Lightweight leather armour||Player-made for Airi by Momoko using materials from «Zagan the Exile» and various other rare materials.||+7 to Agility.|
Heightened critical chance.
Grants a «Hiding» buff without needing the Skill slotted.
|«Exiles Cloak»||Cloak||Player-made for Airi by Momoko using materials from «Zagan the Exile» and various other rare materials.||+2 to Agility.|
Grants a «Hiding» buff without needing the Skill slotted.
|«Sheath Knife Belt»||Belt||Potential drop from the «Fallen Elf Commander» on the 3rd Floor.||Holds up to 3 Throwing Picks.|
Allows the user to throw these picks without entering an «Irregular Equipment State» when a weapon is equipped.
|«Stalker Boots»||Foot-wear||Received by Kenji as a potential drop from the «Fallen Elf Commander» on the 3rd Floor.|
Given to Airi on December 25th 2022, after Ryne declined it.
|Muffles the sound of the wearer's footsteps.|
|«Unnamed Agility earring»||Earring||Received December 19th 2022, as a reward for the «Jade Key» quest.||Grants +1 to Agility.|
|«Sigil of Lyusula»||Ring||Received between December 26th and December 29th 2022, from Yofilis, after the completion of the «Shipwright of Yore» quest.||Allows access to «Dark Elf» areas.|
Increases Skill proficiency gain.
Grants +1 to Agility.
Airi's primary role is reconnaissance, her equipped Skills designed around dungeon exploration and trap avoidance, whilst her secondary role is general crowd-control during battle. Her third Skill Slot, «Trap Dismantling», and her fourth Skill Slot, «Picking», aided her primary function, whilst her second Skill Slot, «Sprint», provided enhanced movement speed and a passive boost for system-assisted evasion of enemy attacks. Her fifth Skill slot, «Throwing Blade», was taken to maximize the effectiveness of her «Sheath Knife Belt», and rounded out Airi's role as a Scout. Although she lacked the «Hiding» Skill this did not impact her ability to hide from monsters or players. Airi possessed two custom-made and wholly unique pieces of clothing made for her by Momoko dubbed the «Exiles Threads» and «Exiles Cloak» respectively, that provided a «Hiding» buff that effectively acted as a high-level «Hiding» Skill that was activated by Airi in the same vein as an actual Skill.
By the time «Brightscale» began questing on the 5th Floor Airi had essentially adopted the classic thief archetype common in numerous role-playing games, with Skill Slots devoted to «Trap Dismantling» and «Picking». These two Skills combined to create several composite effects not documented by the system, and are thus required to be discovered by the player themselves. Airi referred to these effects as her «Thieves Tools». Word of Airi's abilities spread and quickly led to her being hired by other guilds to help them deal with traps in dungeons, one notable example being the «Last Remnant» guild.
During combat, Airi's focus is on blitzkrieg tactics with the claw-focused «Wild Dance» Skill, though she has implemented randomized movements at Kenji's suggestion to trip up the learning abilities of the AI-controlled monsters she faces. She lacks both the equipment and the stats to withstand an opponent's attacks, with Kenji noting that a single attack from «Zagan the Exile» would have been enough to kill her even if she was struck at full HP. Airi is aware of this weakness thankfully and although she has taken steps to mitigate it, she rarely operates as a solo player after joining up with Kenji and Kusaka, preferring instead to act as a backup to the primary damage-dealer in whatever party she joins. Because of her physical stature and Agility-focused build, Airi is remarkably fast, whose choice of damage primarily includes various damage-over-time effects she can inflict without even using a Sword Skill. This allows for swift and easily sustainable damage over extended periods of time. Her chances of inflicting DoT damage can be easily bolstered by a food buff available on the 2nd Floor.
Sword Art Online
|SAO SKILL SLOTS|
|Wild Dance||Sprint||Trap Dismantling||Picking||Throwing Blade|
- «Pinpoint Step» -- a retreating strike consisting of two attacks. The first strike, which is a charging attack, pierces the target's midsection. The second strike involves the user kicking off the opponent with their legs whilst slashing with their claws, resulting in a leap-back of five metres.
- «Patient Defence» -- a counter-based defensive skill. Automatically dodge one incoming attack and follow-up with a slashing strike. Only works on Human-sized enemies.
- «Acute Vault» -- a charging Sword Skill that covers several metres worth of distance.
- «Flurry of Blows» -- a five-strike combination attack comprising four swift jabs and finished off with an uppercut attack. 80% of the Sword Skill comprises piercing damage whilst the final 20% is slashing damage.
- «Burst» -- a player-activated enhancement that provides an unspecified increase to the player's movement speed. Kenji identified Airi as a «Sprint» user very early based on the speed of her movemets during battle.
- «Evasion Boost» -- a passive effect that boosts the player's effectiveness at dodging strikes through a percentage chance of system-assisted evasion. Kenji identified Airi as a «Sprint» user based on her combat style during their attempt to acquire a set of «Dire Wolf Claws».
- «Keen Eyes» -- a composite effect produced by «Trap Dismantling» and «Picking» which is not listed by the system. Greatly increases trap detection in dungeons and chests and more effective than the standard «Trap Dismantling» Mods. Word of Airi's abilities spread and quickly led to her being hired by other guilds to help them deal with traps in dungeons.
- «Dexterous Feat» -- a composite effect produced by «Trap Dismantling» and «Picking» which is not listed by the system. Greatly increases the likelihood of successfully picking locks and more effective than the standard «Picking» Mods. Word of Airi's abilities spread and quickly led to her being hired by other guilds to help them deal with traps in dungeons.
Outside System Skills
- «Mislead» -- The act of tricking the learning capability of engaged monsters in order to gain an advantage. Most prominently employed by Airi at Kenji's insistence through usage of seemingly random movements to effectively confuse engaged foes.
Appearances in other media
Airi has appeared in a number of specials and one-shot chapters, usually as the one driving the story aspect, with others reacting to her. Whilst considered canon to the rest of Sword Art Online (Kenji), these chapters are designed to be light-hearted and not overly serious, with content that can rightly be called ridiculous.
The specials in question are:
- The Tortilla Crusade! -- one-shot celebrating "National Tortilla Chip Day".
Behind the scenes
- Airi's height and weight measurements, including physical appearance, is modelled on Momo Hinamori from Bleach.
- Airi was the sole «Brightscale» member not to be included, or even mentioned, in the Inbetweener side-stories of Part I. The closest she came was the original draft of what would have been Inbetweeners VI. This chapter eventually evolved into the Intermission: A Matter of Skills and Proficiency chapter.
- Airi has two cats in the real world.
References & notes
- ↑ Akiye is 136 cm (4'5½") and 31 kg (68 lbs.), whilst Momoko is 137 cm (4'6") and 31 kg (68 lbs.). Airi is 151 cm (4'11½") and 39 kg (86 lbs).