「めの日の約束」 (Me no Hi no Yakusoku)
You know I think I have SnS all figured out. SAO meets AnoHana with a bit of .hack ingenuity for fun? Oh no that’s just what the show wants to you think. Underneath that simple isekai veneer we got something else, something a little more instinctual—something undeniably romantic. Saving Asahi and letting her log out? Please, we all know which fight will decide the fate of the world here.
While a focus on the more personal aspects—i.e. character drama—of SnS’s story was always expected from the start, it’s still surprising just how much the show is determined to play these moments up. And I mean really play them up. A couple comedic scenes with some airheaded protagonist ring play is understandable given past happenings, but seriously, how many ring-related moments do we actually need? How many shots of putting on the bloody things are required? And really Satsuki, you missed the perfect opportunity browbeat Haruto into adorning your ring finger too! Poor girl. Given the indicated prominence of live triangles in SnS and the related drama it may seem like a strange thing to call out (particularly given the importance of the rings for Subaru overall), but the issue boils down to there not really being anything meaty beyond these character shenanigans. Take away the central predicament behind Asahi’s physical state, remove the Satsuki-Asahi feud and that oncoming Takanori train (with no brakes), and all you have left is a bare bones cookie cutter MMORPG world no different from the wide array of genre competitors. SnS’s story as well described will live or die with the strength of its characters, and if it all it turns out to be is the usual paint by numbers harem scenario for the foreseeable future there won’t be much to keep things interesting.
The one potential saving grace of course is Asahi herself and finding out what exactly happened to her. While I’m undeniably optimistic regarding this bit, SnS has done a good job so far of keeping it intriguing, dropping just enough hints to encourage guesswork without actually giving the answer(s) away. The reveal that Senses can only be activated if alive for example firmly suggests Asahi is still alive, but the emphasis on brain waves means Asahi’s physical form is very much anyone’s guess (*cough* Psycho Pass). Likewise is Elicia, her ability to go unnoticed by everyone expect Asahi apparently, and the reasons behind awakening that boss (albeit altered) who originally ended Asahi’s real world existence. There is quite a bit to mull over and explore in this story, which if SnS does gives plenty of opportunity to forge something interesting from its commonplace components—unless harem shenanigans are all to look forward to.
For good or ill it’s going to be an episode or two yet before we see the route SnS intends on going, which is really annoying for me because I have no idea yet if I’ll be continuing to cover this one (choosing is hard, you heard it here first). I may have my hopes up here, but as is always the case, we’ll just have to see what next week brings first.