Sword Art Online II Episode 19: Zekken
This was a strong episode. I’d like to say it was because of Yuuki and how freaking adorable she was, but it was the first half that really rustled my jimmies. In a bad way, maybe, but we learnt so much about Asuna in the space of half an episode – and I did say this was primarily going to be an Asuna arc. All the stuff about buying the log house on F22 of New Aincrad and making it a real home was pretty much the precursor to this, and it’s here where the contrast really shines through – Asuna wakes up in her room in real life, and it’s plain, cold and ominous. She could have been shivering purely because it was cold and nothing else, but I don’t think that was it. A warm and happy home life is clearly not something she’s boasting – she was friendliest and happiest when talking to her domestic helper, of all the people in her mansion. Oh wait, the only alternative is her mother. Yeah, that sort of explains it.
I had a feeling that these interactions would make me a bit unsettled, and they did. You could tell it wasn’t going to be a fun dinner scene when her mother Kyouko greeted her in the way she did. I think Asuna sort of knew as well. Her mother is pretty much the epitome of strict Asian mothers, who are overly concerned and controlling and harbour lots of negative preconceptions. Some of them I don’t blame her for (being against VRMMOs) and others sound like the media tore it to pieces (“I’m one of those children who spent two years killing each other!”) and some I can actually agree with (the suspicion that the school for SAO survivors has a hidden agenda of monitoring them). But the whole college and money magically turning into success thing isn’t something she should be pushing onto Asuna – sure, I myself think that money’s quite important, but that’s something you should decide for yourself, along with whether you want to go to college. Oh, and get married. I bet Yuuya-kun is a dick. Not only did she specify he runs a bank, she even took into account the type of bank! Clearly this is the exact path Kyouko herself has taken, and she’s married into a rich family and done well for herself and stuff. So she wants Asuna to do the exact same thing, and that doesn’t include marrying scruffy little beaters named Kirito. The entire scene just left a sour taste, especially when it became clear that Kyouko wasn’t listening to Asuna at all – apart from that last jab Asuna made, that was great. Even though it probably won’t do her any favours in the long run.
Okay, onto happier events – although ironically, this time the OP nearly made me cry. I found myself thinking I wanted to see Yuuki halfway through the dinner scene, so when Yuuki finally happened it was wonderful. Yuuki Aoi really worked out for Yuuki though, she was as bubbly as I imagined her to be. Based Zekken! I’m glad Asuna could hold her own even though she’s had so much to deal with – also, I couldn’t help but notice that even though it’s supposed to be ALO, the fight very much remained a sword fight! There’s so much more I want to say, but I should really keep my mouth shut for now – all I’ll mention is that they’re really dropping hints everywhere, right from the start. The plot thickens!