What a sad episode.
— Welp, here is Kirito being a genius and everything. This is supposed to be Asuna’s story, but Kirito still has to Gary Stu it up. Here’s the thing, though. If you remove him from the story, the sad truth is that Asuna would have accomplished nothing!
- Beat the raid boss first? Nah. She needed Kirito to heroically show up at the last minute and hold off half of a raid by himself. Otherwise, Asuna and her friends would have been shit out of luck.
- Find Yuuki in the real world? Nah. Asuna wouldn’t have had a single clue where to start looking. She didn’t even suspect that Yuuki was a terminally ill patient. Yuuki would reject Asuna in ALO like usual, and that would’ve been that. That would’ve been the end of the story. Our heroine would never find Yuuki, and as a result, we’d never hear the girl’s sob story about AIDS and all that tearjerking nonsense.
- Help Yuuki experience life at school? Nah. Asuna wouldn’t be able to say anything but, “Man, that’s too bad. I wish I could help!” But thanks to her boyfriend’s mere presence in this story — in her story, she can actually give Yuuki the thing that she wants most!
So y’see, Asuna’s story would have been an unmitigated disaster without Kirito’s presence. But what would happen if you could somehow reverse the situation? If you could somehow delete Asuna from the GGO arc, would this have changed the outcome of Kirito’s story one bit? Not a chance. And that’s when you know that this story is chauvinist as fuck.
— Try not to make sudden movements, Kirito says. So what does Asuna do? She immediately snaps up in her seat. Yeah, she’s not a college girl. I think her mom should just cut her losses and get a new kid to inherit the family wealth. Hey, Grisaia no Kajitsu makes it sound so easy!
— As a reminder, Asuna promised to help Yuuki experience a shining high school life. Yep, it’s cliche as hell. Anime has this weird perception that high school is as good as it’ll ever get in a person’s life. Frankly, it’s a little pathetic. It’s like these stories are all written by Uncle Ricos.
— Anyway, to get the job done, Kirito has mounted a camera on Asuna’s shoulder, and this will allow Yuuki to see what Asuna sees. But y’know, in a world full of terrible VR technology, I’m surprised there isn’t a VR simulation that tries to emulate that shining high school life that these characters so desperately yearn for.
— In fact, this is what I find hilarious about last week’s episode. So these patients are terminal, right? And we use VR technology to not only reduce their pain, but also let them play games, right? So how come we haven’t created a high school simulation to also educate them? Do they even get any education? Why would you develop that level of technology just to let them poopsock an MMO? And don’t even start with the whole “They’re terminal patients, so they don’t need education!” ‘Cause look at Yuuki now.
— Oh boy, what a big courtyard you have (not really)!
— Oh boy, what amazing Japanese literature you have!
— Oh boy… this episode is just really boring as Asuna takes Yuuki to see more things, including the girl’s old home.
— There is, however, one interesting bit of conversation. Somehow, the topic of love and marriage comes up, and Yuuki has this to say about Kirito: “You have to be careful. I get the feeling that he lives outside reality in a different way than I do.” Asuna just laughs nervously, but that’s because she’s running away from her own reality, too. Hehehe… Plus, she knows she can’t anger the harem lead, because he can easily replace her with any of the other girls.
— We then learn more about Yuuki, but I don’t care about Yuuki.
— Asuna: “I haven’t been able to hear my mother’s voice for a long time, either.” Pfft, whose fault is that?
— She then adds, “And she doesn’t hear what I’m saying,” That’s because you have nothing to say. People think I’m on the mother’s side, but the truth is, I’m on nobody’s side. I don’t like overbearing parents either. I know all about bossy, know-it-all Asian parents who think they know best. But you know what? If you want to be heard and if you want to be treated with respect, you have to stop acting like a child. You have to have a concrete plan that will at least give your goddamn parents some goddamn peace of mind. Like I’ve said over and over in my previous posts, Asuna’s mother is taking control of her life because the girl doesn’t have control over her own life.
You can’t forget the fact that Asuna’s already eighteen years old. And thanks to Aincrad, she’s also two years behind most people her age. But what does Asuna do with all her time? She just hangs out with her e-boyfriend in ALO and acts all lovey-dovey. And here’s the sad part! Even Kirito takes the real world more seriously than Asuna! Far more seriously, in fact. For one, he’s actually worked for the government, so he has connections. And what is he doing now? Oh yeah, he’s developing his engineering skills in a field that he loves. He knows what he wants to be when he grows up. Look, I’ve ragged on the Gary Stu all season, but fair’s fair. And the fact of the matter is, the guy is at least doing something to forge his own future.
What has Asuna done? Nothing. Kirito was no different from Asuna, too. They were both stuck in that shitty game, but somehow, one person is already miles ahead of the other person. And that’s all it is. If you were Asuna’s parents, you’d be concerned, too. Of course, Asuna’s mother is not without her faults. She’s portrayed as the stereotypical Asian parent, so she’s overbearing, and worst of all, she has a hard time communicating her feelings. If she was good at talking to her own daughter, she would just sit the girl down, and calmly explain the problem as she sees it. It would probably go something along the lines of this:
“Look, you’re about to be an adult, and yet, you have no direction in life. I’m just concerned for you, and I want to take life a little more seriously. You need to play these games a little less. I know they’re important to you, but so is life. So is earning a living. So is having money to put food on the table. We can’t take care of you forever. I want you to come up with a plan for the next five years, so I at least know you have some direction in life.”
But like most Asian parents, Asuna’s mother immediately tries to take control of Asuna’s life. It’s their natural instinct. And while I will readily admit that this is bad, this is actually not the core problem. Rather, it is merely a symptom of the real issue, and that is that Asuna won’t face her real life issues head on. Asuna’s mother isn’t going about it the right way, but let’s not pretend that she’s the villain here. No, it’s Asuna. She’s simultaneously the protagonist and the antagonist of her own story. The girl is her own worst enemy. Every chance she gets, she runs away to some made-up, fantasy world. Hell, even when she’s sad in the real world, where does she go? She runs to a playground, i.e. a crude simulacrum of a fantasy world for kids.
I guarantee you that if you come up with a solid plan and act with confidence, someone like Asuna’s mother would back off. If you continue to throw tantrums and act like a child, however, then this is what you get and, quite frankly, deserve. You won’t get any respect if you don’t act like someone who deserves respect. If you continue to act like a kid, then your parents will obviously treat you like their kid. People who think I’m just siding with Asuna’s mother simply can’t grasp nuance… much like Asuna herself.
— Ah, what would we do without corny ass lines like this one: “It was because, even when I ran, you tried your hardest to catch me.”
— Oh boy, Asuna is going to confront her mom! She has lots to say, but wait… wait! We have to do it… in the online world! Why? Asuna explains, “Right here, I can’t tell you what I’m thinking and what I feel.” So I need the online world as a crutch. Sweet!
— Asuna: “I want you to see my world!” No, the real world is your world, too. They’re all important, but y’know, the one where you can actually feed yourself might just actually be more important. Crazy, huh?
— Aw yeah, still gotta give Asuna’s mom big boobs in the online world! You just hope Kirito doesn’t log in and see this! Hoo boy, his harem is large enough!
— Haha, weight jokes! Girls being girls, am I right, fellas?! This writer totally gets women!
— Asuna: “I want to live in a way that makes all the people around me happy. I want to live in a way that lets me support those around me when they get tired. And for that, I want to keep doing my best with my studies and other things at the school I love!” That’s not a plan. That doesn’t say anything. It’s just a bunch of cheap platitudes. All we’ve done is turn up the feels, but Asuna has literally said nothing that makes me think she’s going to change and approach her weaknesses in life with any sort of maturity. She’s said nothing to make me think she still won’t be a child who runs to a fake fantasy world every chance she gets. But this is SAO in a nutshell, and as such, it’s full of cheap bullshit that won’t really explore the real consequences and implications behind virtual reality.
SAO just wants to pretend that virtual reality can be just as important as our actual reality without doing any of the work — without taking any responsibility whatsoever. I’m not even saying that Asuna can’t attend her school. There’s nothing inherently wrong with attending her school. She just doesn’t have a plan. She’s not really addressing any of the actual problems that her mother had raised in previous episodes. She just wants to do it because it makes… it makes people happy? Give me a break. The real world doesn’t run on happiness alone. But apparently, if you bombard the audience with enough feels, you can convince them to buy into your bullshit. Hey, it’s working on Asuna’s mother!
— Apparently, if you feel like crying in a VRMMO, you must cry. You can’t hold it back. What a shitty world.
— The next day, Asuna’s mother still feels the need to remind Asuna that the latter has to go to university. Whoops, all those feels and still no concrete plans! Good thing we have an Asian mother to rectify that!
— Nevertheless, Asuna’s mother relents. And she relents all because of feels. Even worse, she’s like, “You’re prepared to support someone for the rest of your life, aren’t you?” How said is that? This entire arc boils down to one thing: preparing Asuna to support the Gary Stu for the rest of her sad, pathetic existence. If he was Jesus, I might understand throwing her life away for one guy. But he’s not Jesus. He’s just Kirito.
— Anyway, now that we’ve taken care of that, all that’s left is to kill off Yuuki’s character. Boy, I can’t wait!