Sword Art Online Ordinal Scale and a Rant About Asuna As A Female Character

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 anime community is divided in half when it comes to this show: fans either believe that it is 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 Ordinal Scale, 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.

Sword Art Online 1

Aincard Asuna

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.

Asuna Sword Fighting

Alfheim Asuna

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 while attached to her NerveGear, and 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, unable to escape. Because she was captured, many people believe that the creators made Asuna into a typical damsel in distress. They say that these events diminish her qualities as a strong female character.

I disagree.

Yes, she may have been captured, but Asuna never sits idly, crying and letting 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. She does get captured again, but in trying to escape, 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.

Asuna In Birdcage

Asuna trapped in the birdcage (look how pissed she is!)

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.

Asuna and Yuuki Sword Fighting

But in Alheim, with that fear and anxiety gone, Asuna has mellowed out and doesn’t use her sword skills as often. 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, many people scoff at SAO 2 and 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.

Ordinal Scale

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.

Asuna Ordinal Scale (2)

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.

At 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.

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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.

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 ❤

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20 thoughts on “Sword Art Online Ordinal Scale and a Rant About Asuna As A Female Character

  1. Anime_Girls_NYC says:

    I love Asuna. The fact is because she isn’t a helpless female character. She is actually a strong female. Who isn’t afraid to kick ass. And she can play the game just a well or even better than the men. Ordinal Scale really stepped it up with her character. I actually think she was the show for me. She out shined kirito I personally think.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. heyitszel says:

    omg, RAI! I’m so glad we have the same view of Asuna in ALO and Ordinal scale! Great post, I’m glad we both painted her as a positive character in our posts. She’s become a favorite of mine 😀

    btw, what were u confused about in the movie? I’m curious…you can DM me on twitter if you’d like to discuss! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rai says:

      🙂 I saw your post the other day about her; I will read it when I get a chance. And I was confused about the ending and the technological aspects… Maybe it was too over my head @.@

      Liked by 1 person

      • Matthew says:

        Yeah I totally agree. To be honest, I still liked Asuna in this arc. I felt like she was forced to be like this because of the situation. After that, she was still the powerful Asuna from the first Sword Art Online.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. JuJu says:

    Despite my dislike for SAO, Asuna is my favorite character design and personality-wise. I feel like she is too good for that series and ABEC should have used her for another worthy LN. Even so, in her highest moments, she is a fine character. Although, I will disagree with you on her role during Ordinal Scale. I felt like she overcame her weakness and fear too late and showing her fighting along side Kirito would has been a better alternative.

    It was a-okay seeing her on screen again, though!

    Like

    • Rai says:

      I praise ABEC for just designing her in general *_*

      I agree it was upsetting that she was placed on the side for a while and I would have preferred that she had continued fighting the whole time. However, the “condition” she got was important to the story because it showed the foundation of her relationship with Kirito, and how deep her feelings are for him. It also helped them move forward as a couple.

      Like

  4. Andrealinia says:

    I’ve never seen SAO but it does sound intriguing so I might look it up. One thing I have noticed is any strong female character isn’t allowed to show any weakness at all; as if they need to be super humanly strong. It’s interesting to see Asuna being portrayed (at least in your post) as someone who can need help without reverting to the tropes.

    Like

    • Rai says:

      Thank you for pointing that out. There is this double standard like you said. They can’t show any weakness at all or people complain. However, these characters are human and need to show weakness in order to become stronger. It would be unrealistic if female characters had no weakness whatsoever.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. tanteikid94 says:

    I love Asuna. The fact is because she isn’t a helpless female character. I’m so glad we have the same view of Asuna in ALO and Ordinal scale!

    Like

  6. Hopeless Nerd says:

    Sao keeps on making me cry. I haven’t watch all of it, but it’s been spoiled( all of them!!). I can’t stop crying!!!

    Like

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