Sword Art Online II – 24 [END]

SAO 2-Meeting Siune

A juxtaposition of life and remembrance

skylionHello folks and welcome to our series finale coverage of Sword Art Online II. Both Highway and I are going to borrow an idea from lvlln and OC and present this as a conversation. We both watched the show at the same time over a Skype channel and discussed the show as it unfolded. Well….we were somewhat silent for a great deal of it…


spring14-highw Yeah, I was silent to him, because I had actually muted my mic for about ⅔ of the show… so that skylion wouldn’t hear me sobbing. Yeah, it probably did get that bad. So what did we think of this finale, and this series overall?

And So We Begin the Conversation….

SAO 2-Asuna and Yuuki

 Our Two Heroes

 skylion: Anyone that had payed attention to the last few episodes could see the end of this route. As for me, I was spoiled when I did some research on the character of Yuuki for episode 23. But that was hardly surprising all things considered. In most stories, you can see the die being cast. So with that in mind my first impression of the shows open was how apropos it all was. If you’re going to send off a character, start with something positive….

SAO 2-Barbeque

Getting the gangs together

Highway: The start of the show was extremely positive. Cookouts, bringing the two groups that Asuna has lived in together, more days at school, grades going up, Yuuki beating Kirito in the duel finals, maybe there was even a shot of Kazuto having dinner with Asuna and her mom and dad (well, *some* guy was)?  And giving them credit, they make it through all that stuff without reminding us that Yuuki is sick and that they’re essentially running out the clock. That waited until after the credits and OP / insert song.

SAO 2-End is near

The End is Near

When Asuna finally gets the message (really, a text, not a call?), she does rush to Yuuki’s side. And the presentation, as usual, is well done. The air of inevitability, evidenced by everyone in Yuuki’s no-longer-clean room. And Asuna’s interpretation of Yuuki’s gesture that she wants to meet Asuna where she can talk to her is a little convenient, but it’s also good of the doctor to agree, in contravention of what had been earlier decided. For me, seeing Yuuki’s sunken eyes and withered body wasn’t what started the emotions. It was after they got in the game, and she did that slow turn at the base of the tree to meet Asuna. We project emotions onto these drawings sometimes, because there are a lot of times they just can’t convey the same kind of non-verbal communication that real life interactions can. But somehow in that turn and wan smile, brightening as she sees Asuna, Yuuki’s pain from her condition and happiness at seeing Asuna was mixed together, in a moment that just set us off for the rest of a happy but sad ending.

SAO 2-Running hard

Asuna runs for Yuuki

skylion: So, what she was looking for wasn’t the Full Dive. But simple human contact. And being able to lock eyes upon a person she loves and loves her in return was worth it all. Unlike Highway, this is when I started to get a bit unglued. Just seeing Yuuki’s frail frame set some off in me. Moe is defined by how protective you are of what you witness. This was the same sort of thing, but in a very different manner. The did quite a good job in the pacing, from the text, to Asuna’s desperate dash to the hospital. I liked how they portrayed the halls as both familiar, and foreign. She knows them, but doesn’t want to know them at that moment.

SAO 2-Yuuki's happy

Just a small smile

But for all of it, while watching I was reminded of a moment in one of John Green’s vlogs. A recollection of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” lyric, “How strange it is to be anything at all” But then, that is how my mind fires something. But, then. I also had Neil Gaiman’s Death riding with me when she says to a young child upon her passing, and how unfair she felt she got such a short time in this world. “You get the same thing everyone else gets….You got a lifetime”. So in short, we must make best what is given us. Yuuki does this to exceptional phrases. And now, I find myself unable to type any longer. Highway, if you would be so kind to take us to the next scene….

SAO 2-Small

SAO 2-Medium

SAO 2-large

Small, Medium, or Large – which was most appropriate?

Highway: So it’s a question of does this get overdone? And if it was, where? I’ll say off the bat that even if it was overdone, it was overdone well. Yuuki expending the rest of her energy to transfer her unique sword skill to Asuna, and then the deluge. It doesn’t matter what people thought they’d do before the actual event, what matters is doing what feels right when you need to. So the rest of Sleeping Knights showing up, and the rest of Asuna’s group showing up, and even the rest of ALO showing up, I think that all was fine. It was impactful, it was respectful, and it was touching. Yeah, it was maybe a little bit overblown, but it was received in the spirit it was presented. And it was extremely emotional for me, as this series typically is.

SAO 2-A large turnout

Awfully Large Turnout

And the aftermath was a bit interesting, bringing us to the memorial service for Yuuki. So many people, for someone whose whole ‘life’ was spent being ill. But she did touch many lives, through a medium that allowed her to get around the limitations of her body. It’s something that gives me hope for the future, and hope that we can come up with something like that sooner than later. But despite it being a big event, they kept the scale nice and relatable, especially with the focus time on Asuna and Siune, and the happy news that Siune’s leukemia is actually in remission. It may feel odd to have them cheered up by each other at this kind of event, but that’s one of the reason for memorial services, especially for someone who was surprisingly able to mean something to so many people. But maybe they had a little bit of dissonance in the scene. skylion?

SAO 2-A surprising realization

Maybe they didn’t need this conversation?

skylion: Yes, they rather did. I appreciate a writer that can bring to separate streams to a single scene, but I didn’t feel that this funeral was the place to do so. It felt like an intrusion, underlined by the fact that they covered most of the information again in the post ED scene. There are just some places where you have to let the moment be the moment, and a funeral is one of those places.

SAO 2-Good news

A nice meeting and good news

I have to respectfully disagree with Highway on the “overdone”. For me, it very much was, and it actually pulled me out of the moment enough for me to question why. They had it, they had it right with both the Sleeping Knights and with Asuna’s group in attendance. Anything else was just adding flash to an otherwise well crafted and simple dish. Now with that in mind, upon a rewatch (again), I was able to edit it out of my mind, and let the rest of the scene flow. It put me in mind of the departure of Hachikuji Mayoi. She was grateful that she got the overtime, and we for one, feel the exact same way. As I said during my last coverage, when we find these sorts of opportunities, we take them and make the most of them. Yuuki did that, and she was able to pass that on to her best friend in both worlds, real and VR. She left a legacy.

SAO 2-hmmm, who is that

Just cause I wanted to throw this in – who’s that next to Asuna’s mother?


For me, SAO II has been almost all better than the first season of Sword Art Online. Part of this is the relative trajectories: the first season started off with good content, got to the really good part, and then spent the second half with no momentum, and nothing much going for it except poor Suguha’s attempt to fall out of love with her brother by falling in love with… her brother. In contrast, the GGO part of II was pretty good for me, and then Mother’s Rosario was all sorts of better. So the impression I’m left with is of something good, rather than something that wasn’t as good, and that makes my overall thoughts about the series better.

I liked that they took the focus of Kirito and his amazing feats of game reality warping. I liked that the things he did do were at least somewhat plausible, including coming to Shion’s rescue (the anime could have done better with why he wasn’t killed by the injection, tho. That was stupid lucky). And I liked that they introduced a character with the chops to take on Kirito, but made it so they didn’t have to. Yuuki Konno is my favorite Aoi Yuuki role, I have to say, although there’s not that much there that says “That’s Aoi Yuuki”, and maybe that’s why. And along the way, we got Reki Kawahara’s trademark melodrama, and I really think that he should get more credit for writing things that are so turned up to 11, yet in the hands of a good team like this one at A-1, don’t make you have the wrong reaction (unlike Sunrise, who made Accel World just bad). So overall, I give it a thumbs up. How about you, skylion?


Well, I do have a somewhat different attitude towards the two series. I felt the original, despite Faerie Dance, was the strongest. It had it’s own set of charms, and had a gravity to the character’s individual situations. I felt a great deal for them while watching, and still feel the same re-watching. By contrast, GGO felt like he, Kawahara, was trying to repeat the death game, and in order to keep the new arc fresh, watered it down, or changed the premise, which I felt never quite worked to keep the suspense. I’ve said in past posts, so I will gloss over here, that the exposition in this outing felt quite forced most of the time, in contrast with the original outing. GGO was action packed for sure, but some of those markers pulled it back for me. Calibur, I felt needed more time to so that the supporting cast could shine. Now I heard that the LNs cast them the same way; which is a mistake, Kirito’s supporting cast actually gives him credit. Here I felt they were swept away to easily. Mother’s Rosario was the best arc by far, outstripping the other two on natural storytelling, pacing, and greater drama.

But that is not to say I hated the second run totally. There were some genuinely entertaining moments that I wouldn’t have missed. Shion’s entire character and how she reacted to everything in her her story was quite awesome, and she is a welcome addition to the cast. I like the specs of the GGO world, and would love to see more gaming universes. As I said, the action and animation were very well executed; kept my eyes glued. So all in all, though I rate some stuff on a fairly tough metric, I don’t feel the show really wasted my time. And the Mother’s Rosario arc is going to go very deep into my memories for quite some time.


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16 Responses to “Sword Art Online II – 24 [END]”

  1. IanDK says:

    SAO was fun. Not great literature by any stretch, but it does propose some interesting premises about the boundaries between the virtual and real worlds.

    As I have written before in other places, the Mother’s Rosario arc I probably appreciated the most because it felt the most ‘realistic’ (for lack of another word) in how it made the real and virtual worlds collide. Not the death game/mind hijacking of the Aincrad and ALO arcs, not the I-wanna-keep-on-PK’ing of GGO (and Excaliber was a fun “it’s just a game!” arc)… just how the virtual can free someone who’s constrained physically.

    SAO raises some interesting premises, but never investigates them with too much depth. But that is quite open for other sci-fi authors to do so (and some have done so already, but there’s always room for more!)

    • Alexandre says:

      just how the virtual can free someone who’s constrained physically.

      They did that with the character of Subaru in .hack//Sign. She was a wheelchair in real life, and the virtual reality of The World game gave her the freedom of mobility she had lost. Another thing I like very much about that anime is the love story between Subaru and Tsukasa, especially when Tsukasa tells Subaru that in the real world he is actually a girl and she says she doesn’t care. I’m a sucker for these things, and so I really like the love story between Kirito and Asuna for its own sake, even though I fully agree with everyone on the problems of SAO and the over-the-top awsomeness of Kirito, especially in the Alfheim arc of the first season.

  2. Foshizzel says:

    Well this arc was a lot different than what everyone hyped originally in terms of Asuna getting a focus was decent with Kirito sitting on the side, but Yuuki was by far the best new character introduced.

    Yes I teared up a bit cause Yuuki touched a ton of players and her real life contributed to others recovering~

    Overall id give SAO2 a 5/10 due to it having a few ups and plenty of downs for me because as most people know around here I’m not the biggest SAO fan…

    As someone who does have a disease irl I can relate to Yuuki’s question about what was she born into this world for? Yeah I can totally relate to that so ill give the writer some credit for doing something different instead of having a magical cure save her life in the end.

    S3 Sure cause it makes money even though id rather not, but if fans want more and A1 wants more money xD

  3. JPNIgor says:

    I’m still waiting for Fosh’s take on these last episodes hahaha.

    Er… So. I just read the part where Yuuki died, and watching it, I have to agree with skylion. While there was Sleeping Knights and Asuna’s group it was all good. When all of ALO appeared there, it was overdone. And in a bad way, I mean. It’s not like it killed the momentum, but I’d rather it be smaller. I mean, imagine yourself being one of the guys from the far back of that huge group. I would be wondering what the hell I was doing over there.

    Anyway, the pacing, it was kind of rushed. I won’t complain more because the LN didn’t get into much detail about the time Yuuki had with Asuna’s group, and the shots were nice, but I wanted more, and in the anime format, the rush felt innapropriate.

    Also, as a matter of fact, Shiune irl uses a wig because of her illness.

    • Foshizzel says:

      Already done xD

    • Highway says:

      You might want more, but where’s it going to come from, both the content and the time? If, as you say, there’s not more detail in the LN, that means someone would have to write it up, and they have to cut something else. Cutting the part with the whole of ALO showing up doesn’t buy you any time, and there wasn’t much else that was plot extraneous.

      I’d sure like to see more good times, but it was obvious that it wasn’t really important in detail, more in aggregate, that you saw that this small insular group became more integrated with the rest of the world, and became more appreciated for having the skill that they had. So I didn’t really have any issues with how they decided to split up the time. If anything, the book would have more space to get into those things, and if it didn’t, then it wasn’t really something the author thought important.

      • Foshizzel says:

        Yeah if a third season comes out ill end up watching it anyway because I might as well, but maybe I won’t be as vocal about the things I dislike even though it is nice to debate and see why people love or hate it.

      • JPNIgor says:

        Yeah, I know that they didn’t have original content and writing something up would probably cost money… But I didn’t really feel this magnitude of “oh, they became famous and important to many people”. Maybe that’s why to this day, I can’t understand why so many people showed up to Yuuki’s dying moments.

        • Highway says:

          I think they established Yuuki’s bonafides as someone well-known. She spent a month taking on all challengers dueling people and winning, and she won the ALO Duel tournament as they showed in the last episode, to great acclaim by a huge crowd. And on top of that, to let people know about her story, that’s the kind of thing that will touch people, as they realize that she was that strong in the game while dealing with what she did outside of the game. That would get a huge response. I don’t know if it’s that she was that “important” to all those people, but that they were touched by her. Plus, the number of people that showed up was probably on the order of hundreds or thousands, not many more than that.

          And as an example of that kind of response, there was one just a few months ago, as a girl who has aggressive brain cancer played a basketball game for Mount St. Joseph. Because she may not have lived until the actual start of the season (at least in condition to still play), everyone (including the NCAA) agreed to move the season opening game up 2 weeks to be more sure that she could play. And the response was so big that they moved it to a bigger arena, where the tickets sold out almost immediately. And this wasn’t someone particularly famous, just someone whose story touched many people.

          • JPNIgor says:

            I’m not saying it wouldn’t touch people. I just felt it didn’t show how she really touched it. I didn’t even know she let more people know that she had this disease until those people appeared at the island.

            But you made your point. It could cause something this big, I agree.

            But I still don’t like this part hahaha

    • BlackBriar says:

      The only arc I felt was rushed was Calibur. That one left me unsatisfied.

      • JPNIgor says:

        I’m not going to complain about Calibur because I didn’t even read it. I knew about Tonkie though. That was a part from the first ALO arc that I felt was missing.

        • BlackBriar says:

          I never read any of the LNs and still felt that arc was a let-down.

  4. BlackBriar says:

    I can see why this last arc was so talked about. A nice emotional depth with a scenario that’s plausible enough to be reality. What was a rather touching part, even if a bit overdone was pretty much all the character contacts giving Yuuki a grand farewell. Really a shame to see such an energetic, fun girl pass on prematurely. At least it happened in the company of those who cared for her.

    Overall, Sword Art Online II had enough to receive a moderate passing grade. More or less entertaining but inconsistent. Phantom Bullet worked well with the mystery of Death Gun and introduction of Sinon whereas Calibur, to me, was lackluster because it was so short that I couldn’t help feeling nothing much happened at all. Mother’s Rosario became a nice closing piece to this season with things looking promising for the cast.

  5. IanDK says:

    Oh! Also have to give a shout out to the last OP, which is definitely my favourite for this season, both for the song ‘Courage’, and the visuals.

    Especially the little sequence showing Yuuki and her sister growing up… that was a nice touch.

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