(Note: Episodic notes are still mostly to be found on the Episodics Notes’ page. For those who don’t know, I take the notes as I watch the episode, and merely re-order them afterwards.)
Yuuki ran away crying after Asuna said she called her “Big sister”, and the drama overtones are heavy in the air. Ah, yes, my favourite arc, let’s see how it progresses.
Thoughts and Notes:
1) Everyone’s a Martyr:
1) Look how they made the scene of Asuna sitting alone in the darkness, lit by flames, mirror the one where she had dinner with her mother – a feeling of being alone, and seeking contact from another who’s not reciprocating.
2) “Asuna, Yuuki doesn’t want to see you anymore. For your sake, not anyone else’s.” – The martyr appears! One who hurts you, and themselves, for your sake! Well, it’s sort of a regular thing in such stories at times. Also, three whole days, for one whom Kirito described as “living wholly in this world”, this serious business™.
“If I’m a bother to you, I’ll leave you alone.” – And now Asuna is doing the same. Everyone willing to hurt themselves in order to not bother the other side, and only hurting the other side further. This reminds me of White Album 2, somewhat, in how everyone is acting the same, and the selfishness masquerading as selflessness only causes more hurt, naturally.
3) “Thanks to you we’ve had our final happy memory here, but please forget about us.” – This whole arc began and revolved around memories. First memories of Aincrad which formed a house for Asuna, then her mother being surprised she’s not trying to avoid memories of the game, and now this. Siune, if you’re thankful for a memory, how can you request Asuna to let go of hers?
4) Asuna leaving the house without even bidding farewell to her mother. Who was there, her brother (whom she asked the maid about)? Cause her father looked very differently when Kirito met him in the first season (in her hospital room).
2) Steeling Our Resolve:
1) “Yui, how does it look?” – “My vision is a little blurry, papa!” – It’s sort of funny though, cause Kirito does look like how people who address babies from above do.
2) The exchange between Kirito and Asuna is sort of meta-amusing, it’s like a noir film exchange of information. Couldn’t he have just sent her the data or something?
3) “All she does is talk about you, and then she cries.” – I don’t even know how one is supposed to parse this – love, regret, what?
4) “First, I should tell you about the Medicuboid,” and then a semi-upbeat music plays. It’s sort of weird, but whenever you go and watch presentations at NASA, companies that produce airplanes, or even historical museums, that’s the sort of music that plays as their looped presentations run, as they try to sell you an image of themselves. Guess everyone knows infodumps aren’t the best.
5) “The sensory levels of the AmuSphere and even the NerveGear are limited to low-levels,” and that’s what was not explained in the series when Asuna fought Zekken, and of the recollection of when she was in Aincrad – people with the NerveGear were better at fighting because the world was more tactile for them. Asuna and other ex-Aincrad players were more used for fighting in the tactile ground position. Zekken fought with better sensory perception, which boosted her capabilities, with less of a gap between the expected sensations and what her body registered via the interface. Infodump over.
6) “I’ll tell you everything about her, but you may later wish that I hadn’t.” – How so? How will it make her feel better not knowing? Also, it’s a bit tiring to hear the same line over and over again. Guess each time it’s asking Asuna to reaffirm her stance as the situation changes – first she wants more knowledge, then she wants more knowledge after knowing it could hurt her, then even after she knows Yuuki is terminally ill, does she still want more information? That’s a bit of how the narrative structure of striving works, but the stakes here seem so very low – get someone to try and accomplish something, and slowly pile on hardships and costs, and check how far before they stop striving for it. But here, everything is so nebulous, so it feels awkwardly framed.
3) The Sickness That Can’t be Removed:
1) Man, Yuuki looks scary. Yes, people in hospitals look scary. People who don’t look or act as you expect people to, or as you’re used to them looking, can definitely be unsettling.
2) Shit, they said it. I hoped they’d cut out the AIDS bit. Reading the book, I had to stop myself from literally facepalming. The lack of understanding displayed in how they describe AIDS, it was beyond baffling, considering even the most cursory of Wikipedia reads would’ve told them how much rubbish was there. I wonder if it has anything to do with Japan and how they view HIV/AIDS, but I… there’s no excuse for this bit. It doesn’t really matter to the story though, could’ve been any sort of sickness, so we’ll move on.
3) “They couldn’t find a patient willing to take the risk.” – And that’s how cures for terminal illnesses get their final-phase testing, by people with nothing to lose either way.
4) Yuuki is locked in the virtual world. Unlike Asuna and the others, to return to the real world would bring her suffering. The virtual world, a media device, instead of drugs, an opiate for the masses, literally. Yes, I feel clever.
5) You know, Yuuki watching Asuna sort of looks and reminds me of the ALO-arc Suguha, who also hugged herself.
6) Considering Yuuki can watch and talk via the machinery, it’s interesting the doctor is using an AmuSphere to talk to her. No, not surprising, just interesting to note.
4) Surveying the Past, Creating the Future:
1) I really like the tune that played when Asuna logged into ALO again. I need this track. It’s the cheery flute. Is it a flute? I’m terrible with identifying instruments.
2) “There’s still time for you to forget about us.” – This is stupid, what do you mean? Yuuki probably means “Before you get hurt by us dying”, but some hurt was already inflicted, and if she forgets about you, she could do so after you die anyway. Also, this is a story, the whole point of the arc is memories and remembrance, remember? So I doubt that will happen.
3) “I’m already satisfied.” – Making peace with the upcoming demise. Asuna can’t accept it, which is exactly what she’s been warned of.
4) “I want to go to school.” – Who is this person? Well, she lived the past three years in fantasy-land and had issues with going to the outside world since beforehand, so I guess it’s not surprising, and this is me making a tongue in cheek comment anyway.
5) “You could go to school!” and so the purpose of Kirito and Yui’s scene when Asuna met with them, and when we’ve seen Yui “fly around” Agil’s shop earlier this arc is revealed.
Post Episode Thoughts:
The theme of memory continues! This episode though dealt with the single worst piece of writing in the novels, it’s not even anything as big as the plot failing, or things not adding up in-world, it’s just insensitive and ignorant writing that could’ve easily been avoided, and wasn’t, and then wasn’t avoided when the books had been adapted to the anime, so I’d lie if I didn’t say I’m disappointed.
Now, let’s talk about the episode itself – this is sort of an emotional high-point, and it makes sense that they gave it a whole episode, to keep the tone stable, without going from hopeful to sad to hopeful, but this episode’s content did feel somewhat stretched out, and the infodump material obviously didn’t help with the pacing, but so it goes.
What I do wonder is what we’ll do with the remaining two episodes, will it be enough? We’ll be taking Yuuki to school, there’ll obviously be the disbanding of the Sleeping Knights, and there’s still the whole issue of Asuna and her mother that needs to be resolved. Since this is my favourite arc of the novels (very much not including the material covered in this episode, alas), I do hope they pull it off.
Cya next week!