It’s Asuna’s side of the original Sword Art Online story.
I really have enjoyed much of SAO’s universe, and following the story of Kirito through his many adventures in the virtual reality games he plays. While I know at times Sword Art Online has had its ups and downs in terms of storytelling, the series continues to hold water. While it is not perfect it does entertain while diving into the deeper elements of video games and the video game culture that surrounds it.
Asuna, child of a family with high-expectations, uses video games as a means to escape the daily pressures of life. Drawn in by the top student in her grade who is also her friend and by circumstance at home, Asuna joins the launch of the new Sword Art Online game. But what awaits her there, everyone should know by now. The death game, where if you die in the game you die in real life, is monstrous in its toll on human life and changes player behaviors.
Asuna, not a gamer and a newbie to SAO, is lucky to have a friend that has already played the beta version of the game. Spurred on and protected by her friend she has the chance to actually make some progress on the game. But what awaits her is the same as what awaits the other players. Traps, monsters, and unfamiliar landscapes all conspire to kill her.
As luck would have it, she has a guardian angel in the form of a boy.
Kirito not only saves her life, but also makes an impact in how she views the game and her new reality. Often when people are overwhelmed they give up. We see Asuna give up on the game and her life. And the reaction is only natural.
Finding hope in a video game world isn’t easy.
Asuna is a good example of what could happen in the video game world. It is a place where she can learn to be herself and grow in the process. When living in a constrained environment, such as the household she grew up in, individuals will miss the chance at some of the basics in life.
When the purpose that was given you is suddenly swept away, and you find yourself in a do or die scenario it can be scary. Of course it is only natural that she should panic and despair. Who is Asuna after all without her family to guide her life and ambitions? She never had to think about her purpose, and now suddenly finds herself lost in a new world.
What I like about Asuna’s story is it is an honest reaction to the world around her. Her feelings come out in ways that were not possible before in her real life. And while video games might be a means of escape from the reality of the world, SAO becomes a reality in and of itself. We see Asuna take steps for herself, we see her personality take shape and develop.
I like that Asuna isn’t an egotistical badass or caught up in warped logic, but rather is a girl trapped in a death game trying to make the most of what is left of her life. She hides nothing, and embraces the reality that she has to face.
If you are an SAO fan I encourage giving it a watch and seeing the game from a new angle. Even if you aren’t an SAO fan you can start here and not be lost as to what is going on in the story. It’s a sincere look into how a person might react to a horrible nightmare that is real.