“Mixed feelings” would probably best describe my attitude toward Sword Art Online II, perhaps the most anticipated returning series this season. I loved the first cour – no other series has provided me with more material about which to write! The second, however, brought me anger (Asuna) and gagging (Leafa).
SAO II begins in an unexpected fashion, perhaps, dwelling mostly on technological and philosophical ideas, with just a few hints of the action to come and a dab of Kirito x Asuna fanservice. So far, so good.
What’s also interesting is that the episode traces where Kirito is going with his life. Long term, he wants to become a “creator,” but by the end of the first episode, he’s being sucked back into the virtual world as a player. His conversation with the government agent felt a lot like a spy or superhero coming out of retirement to accept a new mission – and a difficult one it is. Yet, Kirito takes it, not for the substantial money he’s being offered (does he have a ton of medical bills to repay?) or for a challenge, but because of his character.
While I remembered how much I enjoyed the relationship between Asuna and Kirito, I’d forgotten just how much I missed Kirito just by himself. There are plenty of “Jesus figures” in anime and lots of character who make sacrifices, but few like Kirito, who so automatically and fully gives of himself because of how much he values the meaning of a life.
In episode one, Kirito isn’t convinced to take on the mission because of Asuna or Suguha or anyone else he’s familiar with. He thinks back on those who died in his original adventure – not just his friends, but the whole four thousand that perished. And Kirito doesn’t need a week to think on it – nope, not even a night. He gives his answer right then and there – he will do everything he can, even in the face of possible death, to save others from dying.
And in it’s in the saving of those Kirito doesn’t even know that I call it Mission: Impossible – at least it is for me (and maybe you, too). When devastating times come to our close friends and family, most of us will sacrifice to be by a loved ones side. Perhaps we’re a little less willing to do so for distant friends or close acquaintances – a Facebook message or “thinking of you” card might suffice. But for those we don’t even know? More than likely we’ll send some money, some good thoughts or prayers, or nothing at all.
But Kirito…Kirito is willing to give it all up – his life, a chance at happiness with Asuna, all of it, for people he doesn’t even know.
Christ, too, did something similar, dying for all of us. The difference being that he did know us, and understands both our depravity and how most of us will never turn to Him. And He did it anyway. He loved His enemy, even to death.
Christians are called to be Christlike, and there’s little else as godly as loving those who hate us. But even if we aren’t there, maybe we can at least contemplate something a little less difficult, but still perhaps out of reach – that which Kirito demonstrates – a love for everyone, for the anonymous, for those whose paths we may never cross.
And if that’s all we can do, that’s a pretty awesome start indeed.