If you’re rich, then you have no worries, life is easy, and you get to do what you want. That’s the common perception, right? Well, take a look at Asuna’s life in this episode, and tell me you still feel the same. While having dinner with her mother, Asuna discovers that it is her mother’s desire to send her to a different school. It is also revealed that her mother is trying to set her up with an arranged marriage (as we all probably guessed from the flashbacks in the previous episodes). If you think having your life planned and decided for you is easy, then sure, Asuna has an easy life; however, if you’ve paid any attention to Asuna’s character, then you know that this is not what she wants. Her mother goes on to further say some disparaging things about Kirito, and I have to wonder: does she have any gratitude for the guy who saved her daughter’s life?!
To put it bluntly, this episode does a good job of exposing what Asuna’s life looks like outside of the small snippets we’ve gotten previously. One thing that was not surprising was her mother’s criticism of Asuna’s gaming. Even as a gamer, I think I would be hesitant to let my child play games again if I had lost her for two years to a death game. That being said, this fact doesn’t even seem to register to her mother. All her mother seems to care about is the wasting of time. If you can’t tell by now, Asuna’s mother is a frustrating character, and I don’t see her winning any fans from her introduction. All of this leads up to Asuna realizing that there is a stark contrast between her real self and her game self, and that she was only a warrior within SAO.
This, inevitably, leads into Asuna’s duel with Zekken, and what a duel it is! We get a nice comedic moment somewhere in between the drama of Asuna’s real life and the beginning of her duel, but when the duel starts it is all business. Honestly, this may be one of the best fight scenes in the entire SAO series, so if you like blood-pumping, sword fighting action, then you will want to see this episode. We also see Asuna get fueled on by her previous declaration that she is not a warrior in real life, and this seems to kick the duel into overdrive. I do not have the words to describe this duel, other than the aforementioned blood-pumping.
Sword Art Online certainly has its up and down moments, and, thankfully, this episode is one of its “up” moments. What this will do for Asuna’s character development is anyone’s guess (unless you’ve already read the light novels, of course), but one can certainly hope that it will actually help in that regard. Regardless, this is already looking to be a better second half than the ALO arc of the original SAO anime.
A Christian Perspective:
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12)
So this Christian Perspective is more of a reflection/question than a lesson. As we know from the Scripture above, God expects us to honor our mothers and fathers, but where is the line? At what point are we able to say, “Okay, you’ve taken things too far?” It is probably safe to say that it is not dishonoring our parents if they wants us to do something illegal and we refuse, but what about in Asuna’s case? She is basically defying her mother, refusing the school that her mother wants her to attend, along with the fiancee that her mother has chosen. Is this breaking God’s command to honor her mother? Or has Asuna’s mother overstepped her boundaries? What complicates the fact is that there is a cultural barrier here. As an American, I know nothing of arranged marriages. Certainly, our parents can try to strong-arm us into things, but at the end of the day they cannot force us into anything against our wills. I don’t know how things are in Japan, but from what I can gather (and granted, this is from anime), it seems that arranged marriages aren’t necessarily unheard of, even in this day and age. Also, my (limited) understanding of biblical history suggests that marriages in Hebrew culture may have also been arranged. So some may argue that arranged marriages are God’s will (although I don’t recall Him ever specifically commanding the practice).
All this boils down to what I hope will be a lively discussion from my readers. Do you think Asuna is in the right to refuse her mother’s desires, or is she sinning and refusing to honor her mother by rejecting her mother’s will?
Alcohol/Drug Use: Asuna’s mom is drinking what is, presumably, champagne
Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Asuna cleavage; Leafa cleavage
Violence: A man falls from the sky and crashes into the ground; Asuna and Zekken engage in a pretty intense duel, so you can expect plenty of clashing swords; Asuna punches Zekken in the stomach
Blood/Gore: Just the red marks to indicate damage in-game