I never imagined praising SAO for actually “surpassing” its source outside the boundaries of small, specific portions, but this episode was done incredibly well. Before I begin this entry, I should make it clear that I’ll probably be skipping the mechanics, and going straight to my thoughts.
In this episode we saw the departure from the world of Sword Art Online — it’s a bit of a melancholic resolution. Our characters did survive the death game, and they did gain their coveted freedom from the world, yet there’s still a bit of a depressing turn. In Sword Art Online, you live each day as if it was verisimilar, not a faux illusion; it’s a necessary viewpoint one has to assume to survive. But, when departing from this seemingly ephemeral world, you begin to question whether the bonds, the friendships, the hardships that you had to endure was real, or just another emulation. Players lived in this world for two years; I can’t remember my mindset two years ago. We saw this with Kirito and Asuna — before they departed from this transient world, they made promises to meet together in real life [Episode 13], and exchanged names.
Kirigaya Kazuto and Yuuki Asuna were the names we were aptly introduced to at the end. There’s bound to be an influx of argument on the validity of the ending. Yes, we did essentially see a “love and friendship defies logic” type of ending, but that’s hardly the focus of Sword Art Online. I made a repetitive, almost irritatingly redundant persistence in saying that “Sword Art Online is a social revolving around character interactions.” I do hope that you, the viewer, have grown to agree with that. Sword Art Online does have pretty action, and it does have an incredibly detailed system of mechanics — but, the writer, and this adaptation specifically, have shown a clear proclivity towards the former.
There’s also a matter of discussion on Heathcliff’s, or Kayaba Akihiko’s character. I really liked his character. As we know, he was essentially the creator of Sword Art Online — during Murder Mystery, he showed a clear, almost impossible mastery of the mechanics of Sword Art Online [when asked if “X” was possible, he adamantly stated that “X” was not possible]. He is perhaps one of the most stoic characters in Sword Art Online — an attribute given to him considering his nonchalance with death; most characters fear it, there’s a reason that typical etiquette entails clearing a floor after being five levels above the median mob of the floor. But he, in a way, is a God of his own world. Although a bit attenuated in the adaptation, he is an intelligent “antagonist.” I personally hold his character and his actions analogous to a scientist embarking on a revolutionary experiment. As we saw, he wanted to live in the world he created, not merely spectate — but the world remains a game if those who play it do not take it seriously; so, he coerced the system to apply to such quixotic notions; he made it into a death game. Much like the Stanford prison experiments, he lost himself in the game, living it as if it were not an emulation, but reality.
There’s possibly a whole agglomeration of notions I’d like to blatantly state, but I’m sure those who enjoyed this concluding episode of the Sword Art Online arc already subconsciously, or blatantly know. Sword Art Online was one of my most anticipated shows for the Summer season; I’m relieved to say that it did not disappoint outside its pilot episodes. I will be continuing the entries for Sword Art Online into the Fall season, but as a result, I probably won’t be picking up a lot of shows.
I read Little Busters!, but I probably won’t cover it — it coincides on the same day as Sword Art Online, and I do ironically prefer quality of quantity. But if anyone else would like to cover it, then feel free to do so. I do apologize for the late entry, I had SATs today. Needless to say, I finished the essay in fifteen minutes, but my results for the rest of the test are equivocal.