With the Ordinal Scale movie debut in Japan, North America, and other countries all over the world, Sword Art Online has been receiving all kinds of attention. For many reasons, the reception of this show is divided in half: anime fans believe it is either a great series, or a terrible one. I have personally liked this series since its premiere, as did many other fans. Over the years, however, the hate bandwagon for the anime has grown immensely. Although I admit the show isn’t perfect, people’s extreme hate and disdain for the show upsets me. It’s almost like admitting SAO is good is a taboo.
Before watching it, my hope for the movie was that it do well and help banish some of the disdain for the series. In particular, I was very curious about how they were going to portray Asuna. I am always joking that Asuna is my ultimate waifu (which she is), but the truth is that I really respect her as a strong female character. However, just as the show
accumulated haters, so did Asuna. I was hoping that her actions in the movie would help redeem her reputation. In my opinion, it did just that, and I couldn’t be happier.
In this post, I want to discuss my reasons for liking Asuna, why some people dislike her, and how Ordinal Scale (without revealing too many spoilers) helped to represent her in a positive light. I am going to do this by breaking down the different arcs in the SAO series.
Sword Art Online 1
Asuna is first introduced in the very beginning of the series. Many fans, myself included, were drawn in by her strong leadership skills. She was second in command of a major guild, and fearlessly fought on the battle field, despite the possibility of death. Asuna was strong physically and mentally. She could defeat you easily in battle, but also lay waste to you using her words and opinions. In the Aincrad arc, she is an amazing representation of a powerful female character. No can doubt that.
The second half of the first season is when people begin to look at Asuna differently. After Sword Art Online is cleared, Asuna is unable to wake up from her NerveGear, and is stays trapped in the virtual world. Kirito goes into another game called Alfheim Online to save her. It turns out that Asuna was kidnapped by a man who wants to marry her; he locks her in a giant bird cage that she unable to escape. Because she was captured, many people believe that Asuna was made into a typical damsel in distress and that her qualities as a strong female character fade.
Yes, she may have been captured, but Asuna never sits idly crying and just lets Kirito do all of the work. She tries to escape. She figures out the lockcode on the prison door, and manages to actually get out for a while before being captured again. However, in doing so, she was able to grab a key card that later helped Kirito and Yui free her. She also never stopped giving her sassy attitude to her tormentor.
Sword Art Online 2
For whatever reason, people completely trash on SAO 2 and act like it was absolutely horrible. Was it as good as the first season? Not quite. But it is still a great anime overall, in my opinion, and plays an important part for Asuna’s character. She isn’t really mentioned in the first half of the season, the Gun Gale arc, so I am going to go right into the Mother’s Rosario arc.
Mother’s Rosario Asuna
Because so many people were upset by the second half of the first season, Kawahara Reki decided to write a separate light novel that helped to redeem Asuna’s role as a strong female character. In this arc, two years have passed since Sword Art Online was completed. At this point, Asuna, Kirito, and their friends have been playing Alfheim Online, but Asuna isn’t as formidable as she once was in Aincrad. She is still a strong and skilled player, but her role has fallen more to magic user and healer, rather than bad ass swords woman.
I think this has to do a lot with the fact Alheim is for entertainment. There is no fear of dying, no despair. In fact, those two factors played a huge part of Asuna’s character in the beginning. If you read the Sword Art Online Progressive manga or light novel (you should, it’s amazing), you find out that Asuna was extremely afraid of dying when she first started playing SAO. She suffered from depression and anxiety. She was so desperate to get out of the game that she didn’t care what it took. This is why Asuna was so ruthless and driven.
But with that fear and anxiety gone, Asuna has mellowed out and doesn’t use her sword as much. That is, until she meets Yuuki.
Yuuki is the strongest sword fighter in Alfheim, even stronger than Kirito. And she happens to be a girl! She challenges Asuna to a duel, and for the first time in a long time, Asuna remembers the thrill of using her sword. Asuna and Yuuki become very close friends, and Yuuki inspires her to keep fighting. Bad ass, sword-wielding Asuna is reborn.
Unfortunately, because so many people scuff at SAO 2, they probably don’t see how crucial this arc was for Asuna’s character. Because of this, I hoped that Ordinal Scale would show what a strong character Asuna still is to this day. And it delivered.
I am going to explain this using as little spoilers as possible, but let me start with a brief summary. In the movie, there is a new form of virtual reality called “augmented reality.” It is basically like Pokemon Go. You get to see virtual monsters and events in real life, without having to fully “dive” into a game like SAO or Alfheim.
Kirito, Asuna, and other characters from the series play an augmented reality game called Ordinal Scale, where you fight monsters and go on missions, etc. At first, Kirito isn’t very interested in augmented reality, and doesn’t really participate in it. Asuna, on the other hand, enjoys it.
And she kicks ass.
Because of her time in SAO and other games, she is much more skilled and experienced than many of the other Ordinal Scale players, who frankly have no idea what they are doing. She takes on a leadership role and gives commands to the other players. Many times, she finishes off the bosses herself. Vice Commander Asuna returns.
In one point in the movie, Asuna actually goes on a quest by herself, without Kirito. This shows that she is independent and doesn’t have to rely on him, as some haters claim. In that battle, she helps bring victory once again.
Toward the middle of the movie, something happens to Asuna (I won’t say what so I don’t spoil it) that makes her go out of commotion for a while. Part of me was afraid that she was going to deemed “useless” again, especially since Kirito has to help save her once again.
However! At the very end, Asuna overcomes her weakness and fears to help fight the final battle. And oh my god. She was glorious. Love her or hate her, you cannot deny that her expert swordsmanship was crucial for defeating the final boss.
Conclusion and Final Thoughts About Ordinal Scale
Overall, Ordinal Scale granted my wish: repainting Asuna as a strong female character. She may have mellowed out since the original series, but this is because she is much happier. However, in the movie, she proved that she still possesses leadership skills, as well as sword skills. She was by far the most powerful and influential female in the movie.
Altogether, I really enjoyed the movie for its other elements. I liked seeing my favorite characters again, especially the side characters, such as Liz and Silica. The movie showed us parts of the original SAO game and Aincrad we never got to see before, which was really cool. The story also focuses on Kirito and Asuna’s relationship and how they have matured as a couple. My only complaint is the animation could have been a little better in the beginning (it gets better as the movie goes on though), and there was one part of the story I was confused about, but I don’t want to spoil that here.
I have heard that some theaters in the US, and other countries are reshowing the movie. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend watching it, especially if you are a Sword Art Online fan. I don’t think you will be disappointed, especially with Asuna ❤