Sword Art Online II Episode 20 Notes

November 22nd 2014.

So last time we’ve seen some of Asuna’s home-conditions, with how much her mother is pushing for her success. Some of Asuna’s mother’s thoughts make a lot of sense – Asuna could succeed at whatever she chooses to do with her life, with the aid of her family, but Asuna is currently without plans, content to follow Kirito, who has plans, and is working on accomplishing them.

I’ve seen people say, “I think the show wanted us to think Asuna’s mother is evil, but I found her to be making good points.” I think that was the point, and I certainly agree – Asuna’s mother has good intentions, and is making valid points, just not in the best way. Asuna is definitely feeling lonely and besieged in the real world, where her family house is not her home, explaining her escape to the virtual world, as Sinon, Suguha, and Kirito before.

We’ve also met Zekken, who’s a little girl, who wants help from Asuna in doing something, let’s see what. I certainly enjoy each and every time we get to see Asuna kicking ass.

Thoughts and Notes:

Screenshot album.

1) Heroic Planning Committee:

1) So, what do they want Asuna’s help for? With in-game content (as if anything else would make sense) – they want to defeat a floor-boss, with 7 players rather than 49. No sweat. So, why Asuna? How much difference would one person make? Well, with so few people, quite a bit, I guess.

2) “No matter how good you are, this sounds impossible.” – This is the magical phrase in any coming of age story.

3) The chase after the leaderboards, after having your name memorized, even if it’s only in a virtual environment. Well, a friendship blossoming in virtual space, and the whole season (or show!) is dedicated to telling us the two worlds can’t be separated. Though the memory could be erased. Even a physical memorial can disappear.

4) Actually, there’s another way to get all your names on the memorial – talk to other guilds, and have a member of the Sleeping Knights “lead” each party, just nominally.

5) “Will you help us?” – I discussed this in the past, also about Log Horizon – Some people play these games to feel heroic. Heroes don’t turn down requests.

2) Disconnecting:

1) Asuna, realizing that though she left Aincrad, it still lives within her – when you get used to a game where you can’t die, you don’t optimize for a game where deaths are acceptable, and you also take some of the fun of just winging it out of the equation.

2) Mother pulled out the plug! Talk about a rude awakening… From the warm lights and cheerful sounds of the virtual world to the sterile and silent physical reality.

3) “I have to say goodbye to everyone..” – “What do you mean, say goodbye? That world doesn’t matter.” Very cliched portrayal, but, well, I’ve heard such lines from countless people.

4) “I don’t understand, you lost two years of your life to it, I’d have thought you’d never want to use it again.” – That’s actually a very good point. There’s episode 5 of SAO S1 to think of, how Asuna learned to treat her life in Aincrad as time worth living to the fullest, rather than lost time.

5) “I don’t want dinner.” The most impotent act of defiance, but sometimes the only one a child can muster.

6) Top 4 numbers on Asuna’s call-list, her mother (twice), Lisbeth (I actually remembered her name was Rika), and Kirito.

3) Running Ahead:

1) Asuna – “Let’s take a peek, so we could formulate a plan.” – Jun – “If we’re here, let’s try to defeat it!” – That’s the old Aincrad mentality versus someone who didn’t get traumatized by it, as discussed earlier.

2) Lack of knowledge, falling for the same trick time and time again, and not even realizing it, eh? So, gotta go back in!

3) Asuna, doing something else a leader should, not just coming up with strategy within the game, but getting everyone’s morale back up.

4) Running Interference:

1) “Can you let us through?” – “Sorry, this place is off-limits right now.” – Such cliched bullying lines.

2) Yuuki understands quickly, and bully admits he won’t move, so Zekken pulls the happy “Let’s fight!” – After all, they’re here to play, and this is playing too.

3) Yuuki doesn’t just look like Kirito, but then fights the same as him, and displays the same attitude. I always thought of it as I’ve read the novel, but the anime is doing a good work of highlighting these parallels. Slightly more aggressive, but still.

4) “This isn’t fair!” – The cry of bullies the table was turned on the world over.

5) “There are things you can only share with others by fighting,” and then we saw Asuna thinking of her mother. I know what they’re building up to, but don’t remember this recollection from the novel. So, what is Asuna sharing with her mother while fighting her? Or is Asuna’s mother sharing her worry for Asuna’s future with those fights? Well, in retrospect it’d be clear, but analyzing it with the information given up to this point.

6) “This place is off-limits,” so Kirito in his dark armour comes to the rescue, pulling an Unlimited Smirk Works off of Archer (from Fate/Stay Night) :P

Asides:

  1. Also, watched the new OP, it’s looking pretty sweet.
  2. The music as Asuna met with the guild reminded me of the Moonlit Black Cats’ music, but as it kept going, reminded me more of Madoka’s music. Since Yuki Kaijura did the music for both, it’s not too surprising.
  3. “Sorry for X, but I don’t regret it.” Yuuki is such a child :P
  4. Gung-ho Asuna, yessss.

Post Episode Thoughts:

Another solid episode. A guild made of kids and adults, though they could all be kids or teens in real life, it’s pretty clear not everyone is of the same mental age.

Asuna shows some understanding of her mother, and apparently understood something about their fights, but still has some defiance within her.

So, fighting the boss, trying to let go of Aincrad’s hold on her, or at least the downsides, similarly mirroring Kirito’s character-arc from GGO. But it’s not tossing everything out. If anything, the main theme of this arc thus far is “memory”. The Sleeping Knights want their names written down for eternity, and Asuna is struggling on one hand to keep alive the good memories from old Aincrad, which contained her “real home”, and the ones who traumatized her, who made her overly cautious, and unable to plan for the future.

There wasn’t too much to say about this episode. I definitely don’t know how much I like Yuuki’s portrayal just yet – a lot, not at all? She reminds me of Kyouko from Madoka Magica (though voice by Aoi Yuuki, voice actress of Madoka), and she’s a mini-Kirito, but we got the real Kirito when the episode ended, can’t forget about his existence ;-)

Return to the Sword Art Online II Episodic Notes page.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s