Another day, another arc. This time we’re launching into the Mother’s Rosario arc, which appears to be a popular portion of the overall series. Why? Well, I don’t know, but I guess we’re about to find out. That being said, this isn’t a very eventful episode, although it certainly begins to set the stage for what is presumably the rest of the plot for this arc. Upon finding out that the New Aincrad is getting updated with more floors—including the one on which they had their cottage—Asuna and Kirito, along with their friends, make it a point to clear enough floors to reach floor 22, which allows them to reestablish the home they had begun during their days in Sword Art Online. The battle leading up to this is, perhaps, the most exciting thing to happen in the episode.
Outside of this, there’s a lot of talking. Asuna, Liz, Leafa, and Silica are sitting in the aforementioned cottage doing their homework while Kirito sleeps. Don’t ask me how they’re doing homework within a videogame; it’s just happening that way. Throughout these conversations, we find out that Asuna was previously in Kyoto, and various flashbacks show her wearing a kimono, doing something in regards to her family’s business. We also see her approached by three young guys who appear to be more interested in her than she is in them. Another scene shows her alone in a room with a guy. Whether this is suggesting that her family is trying to set up an arranged marriage or not is yet to be seen, but, if it is, then let me go on record for saying that Asuna’s parents are jerks. At this point, I’m sure they know that Asuna and Kirito are in love with each other, and they certainly know that they owe a lot to Kirito—nothing short of their daughter’s life! If, after all of this, her parents try to force her into an arranged marriage for the sake of their business (or whatever other reason there may be), then that’s just low in this writer’s opinion.
In addition to this (and perhaps more central to the plot) is a conversation about a player called Zekken, who has shown up and issued duel challenges to anyone willing to take up the offer. The reward is learning a unique sword skill. We find out through this that not even Kirito was able to defeat this player in a duel, but it is also revealed that, during the duel, Kirito spoke something to Zekken that no one was able to hear. This, of course, intrigues Asuna and causes her to set her sights on challenging this new player. Thus, the stage is set for this arc. How, exactly, this will play out long enough to fill the remaining episode count for this season will simply have to be a case of “time will tell.”
A Christian Perspective:
Full disclosure here: this perspective may not be exclusively Christian, but it’s something worth thinking about in this episode.
It seems that, all things considered, Asuna and Kirito are all-too-eager to get their little house in Aincrad back and regain the pseudo-life they had in Sword Art Online. For all of the bad memories you would think SAO would induce, they seem awfully eager to get back to what they had. Furthermore, it almost seems like they would rather spend time together in the virtual world than the real world, despite all of their efforts to escape the virtual world in the first place. I could be way off base here; it just seems like they’re very eager to get back to their previous status in the virtual world, instead of enjoying their time together in the real world. Consider the beginning of the Excalibur arc, when Asuna states that she wanted to see Kirito one more time before going back to Kyoto. One would think that being together in real life would be preferable to in-game, but, ultimately, it’s in ALO that they enjoy their time together. Granted, Kirito’s whole reason for calling was because he wanted to claim Excalibur, so there may not have been many other options open, but it’s just the whole culmination of things, and especially the consideration of how quick they were to jump on returning to the status of their old virtual lives, despite having the chance to live their real lives together.
There’s a spiritual lesson here for us Christians. Initially, Kirito and Asuna were trapped in a death game with no guarantee that they would make it out; in fact, it was probably more likely that they would die without ever seeing the real world again. As we know, they do make it out, but I’m talking odds here. Life itself is, in a way, a death game. We’re all involved in it, yet if we just go about our merry ways we will face eternal death in hell. It could even be argued that the odds are in favor of that outcome, for Jesus did say:
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. – Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)
Whether you agree with my assessment or not, it can certainly be said that Kirito and Asuna were given a second chance at life when they survived and escaped SAO, just as we are given a second chance when we put our faith in Jesus. Yet, it seems like the two of them are still hung up on the virtual world. Sure, there’s no chance of death now, but you would think that a reevaluation of one’s priorities would be in order after all of that. But don’t some people do the same thing with Jesus? They come, they taste the freedom He offers, they follow Him for a while, and then they walk away and go back to whatever it is they were rescued from in the first place. Perhaps this is a bit of a harsh example to draw against Kirito and Asuna (although it does seem that Kirito’s goal is now to bridge the gap between reality and virtual reality), but I think I’ve made enough of a case for it.
Alcohol/Drug Use: None
Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Leafa cleavage
Violence: Standard fantasy combat, with both physical and magical attacks used
Blood/Gore: Just the red lines that appear to indicate in-game damage
Other: Characters use magic within ALO