Sword Art Online II – Episode 23

SAO tricked me again this week, pulling off a surprisingly effective episode after last week’s absurdity. The story didn’t necessarily get “better,” but its variables were used more thoughtfully, and the execution was stellar. Even in Fairy Dance, the lion’s share of SAO’s aesthetically effective moments were the ones in the real world – Sugu’s story didn’t land for a variety of reasons, but it was often solidly expressed nonetheless. This episode somehow arrived at a pretty respectable end for Mother’s Rosario, so nice job, SAO.

My full ANN post is right here. Notes below!

Sword Art Online

Alright let’s watch some fucking Sword Art Online

Man, this OP song deserves a better show

So yeah, as expected, they’re doing the Yui robot thing for Yuuki at school

This might actually be a very graceful way to demonstrate what exactly Asuna gets out of school here that she wouldn’t get elsewhere, for the sake of the Momsuna half of the narrative

The lighting in this segment is uncharacteristically shadow-heavy. Really nice how they create the contrast between this and the virtual world

And the scene in the classroom is actually a subtly sad moment. Always whiplash with the SAO – the execution lifts the base material as often as not

Asuna putting off going home to go somewhere Yuuki wants to. Shit’s gonna get serious at home

So yeah, this arc is basically just reflecting the idea of digital worlds as valid back, and showing a character trapped in the digital world who longs for the original one. She sees all of the real world’s little moments people take for granted as treasures

“I get the feeling that he lives outside reality in a different way than I do.” Oh Kirito

Yuuki talking about how her mother cared for her. Pieces coming together

“Before, you said that there are things you can only share through fighting. How can I be strong like you?”

This is the episode we needed earlier in this arc

“Why not try talking to your mom like you talked to me?” Alright, there’s the loop

“I don’t want to hear something you can’t say face-to-face.” Her mom always has the thematically sharpest lines

“This is pretty weird. Having a face that isn’t yours move when you do.”

This episode is actually quiet in its reveals, which makes them so much more effective

“Your parents were very proud of you. They said they’d protect the house forever, so if you ever wanted a place to stay, you’d have one.”

This episode is sooooooooooooo much better. Keeping the focus on Asuna, someone we actually know

“I want to live in a way that makes all the people around me happy.”

Great use of silence in this scene. As always, with good snow scenes

And the “I’ll be back” to her house as she leaves. Just nice echoes of the elements of the story all around here

5 thoughts on “Sword Art Online II – Episode 23

  1. Bit surprised you liked the using of lighting as much as you did for the first portion. The heavy chiaroscuro for me ended up building an ominous or nefarious sense of wrongness that felt disconnected from the emotions present in the scenes. That the shadows might create a sense of “nostalgia and calm” as you say in your ANN post makes a lot of sense in retrospect, but for me the high contrast – at times even stark – lighting felt too on-edge to have a soothing effect.

  2. Alright let’s watch some fucking Sword Art Online

    I really hope if/when SAO3 starts that you’ll be covering that too, it would be pretty amazing. Really gonna miss your SAO posts.

  3. The moment when Asuna’s mother started crying… YES! This is it! Finally something i got immersed into. It took like 5minutes, still best ep of all SAO for me. The 2nd half just worked…

    I loved that she tried the VR, its exactly what i hoped for the entire time (the reward in that is basically the same as when a tsundere character turns dere). I liked how ‘silently’ she was perceiving all of the VR experience. Even when Asuna was talking, she was already half in her memories… leading up the the touching scene.

    Not bad.

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