Author’s Note: This review contains spoilers.
Sword Art Online: Mother’s Rosary Volume 2 picks up where Volume 1 left off: after talking with the Sleeping Knights, Asuna agrees to join their six-player team and help them take down the final boss of a dungeon floor. After a disastrous test run, the Sleeping Knights get through their boss battle thanks to Asuna’s strategy and Yuuki’s power, succeeding in being the first guild to defeat the floor boss. Their names are inscribed on the wall of victory and all is happy… until Asuna asks to permanently join the guild. Her request is rejected, and before she can learn the real reason why, Yuuki dramatically logs out of the game.
Like the first volume, Volume 2 is economical with its story and pacing. Fights are delivered quickly with plenty of action, magical explosions, and heroic poses (complete with wispy, action-suspended hair).
But thanks to the dialogue, credible RPG details, and logical strategy based on character stats, they don’t feel rushed and, ultimately, bring the Sleeping Knights’ mission to a gratifying and exciting conclusion—even if it’s clear the real story is just getting started.
While the answer to Asuna’s question isn’t answered in this volume, the story successfully accomplishes what it set out to do: move from a story about a game to a story about people and the relationships they develop in whatever world they choose to include in their reality. The battle is won, there’s no more fights to be had, and for once there’s no additional villain lurking in the background to mess it all up again. All that’s left to do is figure out what’s going on with Yuuki and untangle the web of melancholy that surrounds her whenever a future in the game is mentioned.
However, I don’t think this volume of the story accomplished its mission as well as it could have. Why? Kirito.
Right before the second attempt at taking down the floor boss, Asuna and Yuuki discover a band of nasty players lurking in front of the entrance to the boss battle, ready to slip in and steal the kill from the Sleeping Knights. Just as the Sleeping Knights are getting ready to take on the lot of them, Kirito shows up and offers to godmod his way through the fight and keep the players busy so Asuna and her new squad can complete their mission.
What makes his appearance especially frustrating is that everything about this arc is focused on Asuna finding her own strength to be successful alone, without standing in the shadow of her parents or her boyfriend—as dictated by the story itself.
Just before Asuna agrees to join the Sleeping Knights, the reader sees Asuna IRL. After being forcibly removed from the game by her mother, she leaves the house for a quiet, head-clearing walk. Understandably upset, she pulls out her phone—Kirito’s contact information already up on the screen. But after a moment of thought, she puts it away.
This moment in Asuna’s story is quiet but significant. Though she never says as much, the art suggests that she had intended to call Kirito and ask for help. The scene shows that she recognizes that it’s time for her to fight her own battles alone, which is why when she logs back in, she agrees to join the Sleeping Knights. She has something to prove not only to herself about the game she loves, but to the people in her life that she loves.
While one could argue that it’s nice that Kirito swoops in on white horse to help his girlfriend, his appearance before the floor boss basically undermines the significance of Asuna’s moment of power. It’s like the writer is saying that Asuna is incapable of succeeding without the help of her boyfriend, which sort of counters everything the story had initially promised to prove wrong—hence my complaint.
Regardless of Kirito’s appearance, Volume 2 delivers, leaving the reader satisfied and ready for Volume 3. Again, those who have seen the anime will know what’s coming, but for those who haven’t—hold onto your hearts. We’re about to log in into a world of feels.
Story: 4 out of 5 stars
Art: 4 out of 5 stars
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
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