Sword Art Online: Impasses and Love

8
Trite one-liner depicting content of episode.

2
It looks like they truly skipped the existence of Tonkii [from the last episode]. It’s not critical information, it’s pretty “arc-specific.” Nevertheless, it is a fun arc. I’ll do a direct copy and paste of the Pastebin that I had pretyped for the last episode. Ask if you need clarification on anything.
I added the halfassed summary, I may have omitted some details; memory’s foggy, and a little focused on doing this week’s episode. Anyhow, let’s begin; I do suggest reading the summary for those who did not read the light novel, it’s not crucial, but it does possess from foreshadowing and mechanics. This episode is heavy character development, less mechanics.

Mechanics

4
Mob Strategy: An added keypoint [keep in mind, it’s explicitly mentioned during this episode, but practice of this has been recurrent]. All monsters have specific weapon ranges; swords have a shorter range than halberds, and fireballs have a longer range than halberds. By manipulating the monster’s range, they could essentially exploit the hard-wired code [or response pattern of the programmed monster] to its blind spots. The most blatant blind spots of a monster are its recharge times, or the time between swings; at other times, it’s positioning.
3
Parallelism to SAO: Kirito is essentially fighting an impossible battle [with the knights]. They are designed for large, well-geared parties, and all he has is willpower and experience.

At that time, my heart was as hard and dry as a stone. Game clear or player liberation, none of it mattered anymore. I rejected others and thrust myself into the next battle.

Here, we experience a quote that details his mindset during this encounters. His experiences with Asuna in Sword Art Online were the most precious to him — in the last episode, he notes that he cannot move on from Sword Art Online until he recovers the last vestige of his ever-so haunting past, Asuna. Asuna and him acted with altruistic obligation during the final episodes of Sword Art Online — if they had not fought Heathcliff during the final episode of Sword Art Online, then Sword Art Online would have never been cleared. But, they would have been together, stuck in an elysian, perpetual dream. Kirito wanted nothing more than to spend his life with Asuna, and Asuna the same — but, with the tenets of duty, obligation, and promise, they rescinded their ephemeral dream in aspirations of clearing the game. The clear of the game resulted in a separation of the two. This quote details that; during the final episode, they fought with obligation, that was their reason for fighting — now, Kirito isn’t fighting with an altruistic, noble reason; he simply wants to recover the one most precious to him. He cared little for following his typical mantra of helping all those need, he conformed to his visceral intents. This is a result of both released passion [he had gotten a glimpse of Asuna just recently] and excited persona [in a typical situation, he would prioritize both benevolence and personal aid, not a linear dedication]. His initial death in Sword Art Online is actually explicitly paralleled to his death in SAO; he’s only died twice since the launch of SAO, the final battle of SAO, and the foolhardy, passionate attempt at clearing the current floor.
7
Kirito-Lyfa Meeting: We learn that the result of Kirito logging in so close to Asuna is a result of them sharing an identical global IP address.

Character Interactions

10
Kirito: Up until Kirito has been a methodological strategian in relation to the situation with Asuna. Some have professed this as being careless; he’s strolling through Alfheim with Suguha, while being minutely bothered by the captivity of Asuna. We do have to realize that the two had an arrangement that focused on a symbiotic mutualism, but also on independence. If we remember, during Sword Art Online’s final fight, prior to it, Kirito jokingly brought up the prospect of fleeing, of running away from their responsibilities. Of course, Asuna embraces him and rebukes the asinine, but understandable proposal — they make a promise to not commit suicide if the other passes on. The statement may have seemed extreme at the time, but we do have to truly realize how intertwined their characters are to each other; Kirito is as reliant on Asuna as Asuna is on Kirito — one may be more predisposed to believe that Asuna is more reliant on Kirito [from the blatant superficialities], but the events of Sword Art Online, or the origin of their relationship cannot be shrugged off as being simply serendipity. If Asuna did not meet Kirito, she would most likely have died from simply overworking and nonchalantly throwing her life away; she didn’t have a reason to live, but Kirito gave her one. Kirito on the other hand, would have most likely succumbed to insanity or a similar ailment if he had not a cathartic medium to purge his worries with — he was undergoing the guilt of being a Beater, the guilt of causing the deaths of his guild members, the death of Sachi, and the death of every other player — it didn’t matter if he was truly innocent or guilty, if he was blamed as such, he believed it. On the surface, there’s not much of a need to show it; but that’s partially because of a passive methodology to remain strong — if he hits a low point [such as the Xmas battle fight; a moment of despair], he’ll most likely open the floodgates for all the detriments called upon him [The Xmas battle fight was his closest occasion to death — he didn’t care about life, he simply wanted to atone for Sachi’s death]. Nevertheless, I should probably get more into these details during an alternate entry.

In this episode, Kirito finally meets the activation energy in losing himself. Driven by unabashed, fervent instinct, he bolts up. It doesn’t matter if what he’s doing is impossible, he won’t be satiated if he does not at least try — Asuna is precious to him, perhaps the most important thing to him in the world; this aspect will never change even if he doesn’t blatantly show it. Fortuitously, we see that he’s rewarded for his actions via a GM access key [that Asuna so aptly jacked when being the victim of tentacle fun].
6
Suguha: She finally realizes that Kirito is her brother, Kazuto.

While travelling with that person for the past few days, Lyfa had felt that the virtual world was more vivid. Her heart was excited just to fly side by side. Suguha adored Kazuto, Lyfa liked Kirito, if she said she wasn’t feeling guilt, that would be a lie. However, it was Kirito that taught her that ALfheim wasn’t just an extension of a virtual flight simulator like she had thought for a long time, but a whole new reality. That is why Lyfa was able to realize that the feelings that she had in this world were not just digital data, but her true feelings.

I do hope that we have realized that her character, along with the relationships of every other characters goes onto accentuate the ambiguity between real life and virtual reality. Humans live in real life, and players play video games — although we assume different personas online than we may in real life, we’re all people in the end. SAO [holistic series] has the recurrent theme of this — virtual reality friends are not attenuated versions of real world friends, and reality does not supersede virtual reality in terms of meaningful interaction.
Kawahara needed a practical way to expose this during Sword Art Online’s primary arc — he simply made virtual reality into a real reality. If you died, you died — you couldn’t simply belittle the game, it was as stated. ALO is a story of how the lessons learned in SAO transfer over, and how they remain recurrent regardless of the anomalous factors; Kirito learned about friendship in SAO, he carries them over into ALO. He also learns about the meaningfulness of relationships, it doesn’t take a life-or-death situation to remain consistent with them in ALO. It’s an overlying thematic principle in Sword Art Online.
In Suguha’s case, reality’s a little colder than virtual reality. In reality, she is Kazuto Kirigaya’s sister [by experience]. In virtual reality, she is Kirito’s party member. The latter depicts a possibility of a romance [even though she’s very well established that the possibility of a romance between her and Kirito is null], while the former brings with it emotional taboos. She fell in love with Kirito because of how much he resembled her brother Kazuto; it’s just a pain that Kazuto actually is Kirito.
5
Kirito-Suguha Relationship:

“…If you are angry that I used the NERvGear again, I apologize. But it was absolutely necessary.”

Not entirely oblivious as he is pragmatic. He does not consider anyone else a possible romantic partner besides Asuna. He’s nice to everybody; in his case, he grew closer to Lyfa, but he viewed her as a good friend [much like Silica, Lizbet, Cline, and Egil], but not as a romantic preference [Asuna is the recurrent singularity in his head]. It may seem cruel, but it’s simply a matter of perspective in this case; in the light novel, we’re actually given proclivities to side with Suguha — the narration focuses on her state of mind, and as such, we assume her state of mind; Kirito knocking on her door is a third-person action, not a subject of narration.
Suguha’s a fantastic character. Kawahara’s a dick for developing a menagerie of well-written female heroines, while only allowing the prospect of a predestined, singular romance [partially sarcasm, I’m a quixotic fanboy with monogamous romances, albeit there’s still the feeling of guilt]. This will be a recurrent element in Sword Art Online, it does not stop with ALO. Every accompanying deuteragonist will be female, and every female deuteragonist will be a well-written, complex character. I suppose it’s a first-world problem to lament the addition of too many good characters.

To this Suguha, I had shown my feelings for Asuna many times. I had cried in front of her thinking of Asuna. It wasn’t hard to imagine how deeply I had hurt Suguha.

Ironically, he’s actually grown to be remarkably keen with understanding and analyzing the motives of people. He gives numerous theories on why he initially trapped himself in the world of MMORPGs [prior to SAO] and how Suguha feels; her perspective on things, the guilt he gets from doing so. He feels awful for using Suguha as a recurrent staple for his professions on his feelings [about Asuna], both in real life and in virtual reality — he views it as an ironic reality that his first meeting with Lyfa in SAO resulted in him talking about Asuna from the get-go.

Concluding Thoughts

9
SAO is coming to an end, and my sleep cycles will most likely benefit as a result. Probably a joke, but waking up an hour before the releases to type this up is a pain at times. Nevertheless, it’s fun. We should see ALO tie up fairly well; I’m not sure whether the final episode will be the climax or an epilogue of sorts; I do hope it’s the latter.


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One Response to Sword Art Online: Impasses and Love

  1. Pingback: First Impressions: Sword Art Online | MDZ's Anime Blog

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