Sword Art Online II: Mother’s Rosario

Sword Art Online II: Mother’s Rosario

IMG_1415.PNGThe second arc of SAO II goes in a completely different direction to Phantom Bullet. This one focuses on the group’s current VRMMORPG Alfheim Online and has Asuna starring as the main character.

There is almost a complete absence of Kirito – the main series’ protagonist – in this arc. It makes for a complete change of pace and perspective from the more gritty and action-packed Phantom Bullet. In fact, Mother’s Rosario is the first arc in which Kirito is never a viewpoint character. Rather, everything is seen exclusively from Asuna’s point of view. It’s an excellent choice as it allows Asuna, who suddenly went from strong female lead to weak damsel in distress in the series’ second arc, to once again come into her own and develop as a character.

IMG_1414.PNGWhile Kirito is only a supporting character in Mother’s Rosario, the arc does a good job and proves the saying ‘there’s always someone better’. In this case, this person is new character Yuuki, the ‘Absolute Sword’. Despite not having any special skills (like Kirito’s dual wielding ability), she proves herself superior in both speed and technique. As Kirito has often seemed to have far more power than the average player in the series, it is satisfying to see that, while strong, he is far from unbeatable.

IMG_1407.PNGYuuki becomes a developed enough character for you to quickly begin caring about her, and so the slow degrade of her health affects you badly. Especially when it affects Asuna, who has become the emotional focal point of the show once again (I assume this the main reason why she is the protagonist here, and not Kirito). Asuna is already a well-developed character, and shows us a side of her that is a mix between her being a badass girl gamer and her real, feminine side. We have seen this before in the juxtaposition of her being a healer as well as a swordswoman, and the show itself shows how Yuuki teaches her to stand up for herself and show how strong she is to her overbearing mother.

Though the pace changes from SAO’s usual high-stakes questing, it is by no means less enjoyable. What Asuna is doing is helping a guild, The Sleeping Knights, to complete a difficult raid dungeon so they can have their names forever engraved as winners. Not only do we get to identify with the bubbly Yuuki, but also her fellow guild members. In the same vein, this also means that we get to see a bit more of the sub-characters, which have seemed pretty two-dimensional since their limited screen time during Phantom Bullet. We also get to see some interesting aspects of Asuna’s real life, and how she struggles to connect with her mother ever since her two-year coma in Sword Art Online.

IMG_1410.PNGWhile the Phantom Bullet arc forced the emotional connection between Sinon and Kirito through the killing of Laughing Coffin members in a sequence never shown in the Aincrad arc, the connection between Asuna and Yuuki is very deep and well-developed. Yuuki sees a lot of her sister in Asuna, and Asuna sees a strong girl fighting on despite her illness. But Yuuki herself isn’t strong on the inside, so we see, through the time these girls spend together, a bond that builds both of them up and succeeds in getting the viewer emotionally invested.

IMG_1413.PNGWhen it comes down to it, Mother’s Rosario is an enjoyable change of pace in the Sword Art Online series. Instead of focusing on adventure, it focuses on some great character development for Asuna and shows her exploring life after spending two full years in a death game. Moreover, it fleshes out the technology of the world and ties everything together with a heartbreaking story. Simply put, Mother’s Rosario is an excellent addition to the overall narrative and should not be skipped.

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