November 8th, 2014.
Mother’s Rosario, my favourite arc of SAO. Is it the best? Alicization is probably “the best”, but it’s definitely my favourite. The most emotional, the most heartfelt, the most human. Asuna is the protagonist, with Kirito getting just a bit of screentime. The emotional manipulation in this arc is quite heavy-handed, so it’d be a very polarizing arc, regardless of whether they adapt it well or not (I thought Sinon’s arc in GGO was fine, but not uber emotionally moving for me personally, part of it is probably knowing it was coming).
There is one face-palm moment of “Fail Science”, hope they fix it in the series or just remove it entirely, cause it doesn’t actually matter. So, polarizing arc, but my favourite, with lots of good Asuna time, let’s see how it works (please work!).
Thoughts and Notes:
1) Reminiscing with Friends:
1) Also, “Floor 22”, a cabin in the woods. The same floor where in Aincrad Kirito and Asuna took a break from the front lines after marrying, and where they’ve found Yui.
2) Agil, so unlike the fisherman they met, one gave up on coming back and enjoyed in-game pension, while the other worked hard to return to the position he left behind.
3) Asuna, to her Kirito is truly “The Saviour”, in the form first loves are often depicted in teen novels, I guess. “Being with Kirito is home”, eh? And yet, at the very next moment, she wants to recreate thathome, that specific instance in time – it doesn’t matter where home is, it’s where Kirito is, but we still like memories, and anchors like that.
2) Memories of Aincrad, Memories of Home:
1) “Switch!” – Yeah, this arc is beginning with a full-frontal assault of callbacks to Aincrad.
2) Yui-chan, girl mode, activate!
3) “I’m home.” – Not just with Kirito, but an actual place, just not in the physical world. We discussed this in the very first episode of the season, with the difference between the physical and virtual world being in data-density, but each is treated as real as the other, at least by these two. Heck, they’re bringing their virtual daughter to the physical world, aren’t they? These two work on blurring the lines.
4) I laughed at Asuna walking around trying to get reception – raising the Amusphere to the ceiling, and if it worked, could she play with it in that position? :P Also shows how uncomfortable she is in that position.
5) After Asuna’s last arranged suitor (Sugou, in case you repressed it) turned out so well, seems her family’s busy arranging her some more suitors.
3) New Patches, New Challenges:
1) “Original Sword Skill” infodump averted! Basically, they let you make the super Sword Arts from Aincrad, but you basically have to do them unassisted first, so you need to be capable of the super-moves before the game will handle them for you (like a macro that you can’t program but can only record manually, delays as well) – so the more moves, the harder to do.
2) Look at what they accomplished with this small exposition – Kirito and Leafa, the superb fighters already fought Zekken and lost, which alleviates tension from when we see them, thinking how it’d go, and also saves time for the rest of the story. It also cements just how strong they are, and further solidifies Kirito as a side-character, rather than “The Main Show”. Of course, he’s still Kirito and it’s still Sword Art Online, so they leave a small opening for “He didn’t give it his all.”
Also, “Kirito only fights seriously if it’s no longer a game,” but didn’t we just discuss a short while ago how it’s not a game for him and Asuna? Sounds contradictory, right? Well, people still “play” with fencing and paintballs in our very real world, don’t they? Kirito is serious when his world, when his home is in danger. The lines between the real and virtual world are the main theme of this season, from Sinon’s arc to this one.
3) We just saw Asuna beating a big-ass floor’s Boss, in case you forgot she too is a player with the drive to test her mettle, so her fighting Zekken is a natural progression.
Shorter Notes / Asides:
- That single fang of Silica’s. Well, this is anime – a break is ending, so everyone’s doing homework or lazing about and not doing homework.
- Kirito with the back-handed compliments, always made fun of Agil in game, but Agil’s a bro. Agil does keep frowning at the hand-holding though.
- Silica’s pose and facial expression when she trained in flying – like she needed to go really badly :<
- Just realized “Yuuki” means snow, hm.
- Kirito, being humble!
- Asuna looking lovely in the ED.
Post Episode Thoughts:
A slow episode, but it almost felt like more than one episode. We’ve had discussion of home, then we saw the homelike atmosphere. We’ve had a lot of callbacks to Aincrad and the first season of Sword Art Online, from Asuna on the front-lines, to being trapped in the game and wanting back, to the cabin in the woods.
All of this is related, of course. This is about home, this is about home-coming. It’s about finding a place where you belong, and returning to it.
And that goes straight into the other theme of the episode, and the entire season, blurring the lines between the real and the virtual. It was a slow episode, and at times quick, and it had me smiling quite often. I’m filled with hope for the rest of the arc!