So that’s how Asuna gets her mom to stop being a bitch: a nostalgia trip. Which begs of the question of where and when in the past few episodes (amidst all the emotional turmoil of Yuuki’s situation) did Asuna have the time to create this tiny sanctum that represents a major part of her life and psyche, one we’ve never seen before? I mean, had this been a more regular theme of Asuna’s home and virtual experience that she kept going back to without much explanation, I might have found this “reveal” to be more moving, but it just seemed so random that it took me out of the moment. Anyway, now Asuna’s mom understands her kid a bit more because she took LITERALLY five minutes out of her time to listen to her for once. Did anybody else laugh at this part too? Communication solves problems between human beings? No fucking way.
I mean, the rest of the episode was okay, I guess, but I think I missed something, or it’s just that I’m not terribly into the story at this point. This is a lesson about pacing and why telegraphing stuff only works in certain situations and contexts. Yuuki’s terrible, terrible plight has been hanging over everyone’s heads for so long that it’s worn out its welcome. We get it: she’s stuck in a horrible situation and is making the most out of it. Gambaru and all that. It’s not working, Kawahara Reki. Yuuki seems like just another tool in this story’s box of cliches, a means to resolve Asuna’s own character arc with some token sympathy tropes to tug at your heartstrings. It all comes across as way too utilitarian to me, not to mention how much these episodes have just dragged on and on. One of the most annoying traits of B-grade anime writers is their incredibly bad habit of just throwing in ten tons of dialog if they can’t figure out what else to fill their scenes with (Log Horizon is even worse at this than SAO, somehow). Did we really need another talking episode to explain everything? Did these people not learn the lesson of show, don’t tell back in writing school? This arc could have been half as long and been just as effective. Better idea: we could have shaved off those three useless Viking episodes and spent more time developing this shit with proper pacing, focus, and tone. I might have said this before, but I think one of the worst accusations that can be made against a writer is sheer laziness. I’m no Stephen King, but if I can spend five minutes and come up with very basic adjustments that would significantly improve the quality of the writing, it’s fucking bad writing. Shows like Stand Alone Complex demonstrate you can make twenty minutes of nonstop dialog effective, dramatic, and gripping, but there has to be a method to the madness. SAO is all the latter, and it’s not particularly fun madness at that.
At least next week this nightmare will finally be over. I’m sure the soulless anime industry will crank out something equally placid and unremarkable to take its place forthwith. I can’t wait. (The previous sentence is all lies.)