Right now, we’re alive here

"FanArt : Asuna" | Art by Kazenokaze. Used with permission.

Do you not understand? Every day we spend here is one day we’ve lost in the real world.”

These are words spoken in Sword Art Online by Asuna. She is talking to Kirito, her eyes are narrowed, her hands are on her hips. Kirito is laying on his back in the quiet and calm of a green meadow. The look on his face is as serene as the digital sky above him.

He knows she is right. All the players in the game are trapped inside this virtual reality. There is no logging out. There is no respawning. And dying inside Sword Art Online means you die in real life.

The only chance for the thousands of players trapped inside this digital reality is to beat the game. That is what Asuna is focusing on. She has worked for months inside the game, training herself to be stronger, leading her clan deeper into the game, inching forward to the ending that promises freedom.

Asuna learned from Kirito that escaping wasn’t the only important thing in Sword Art Online.

Kirito himself has also worked hard to become strong but he has remained a solo player. If anyone knows the precipice these trapped players are walking, it’s him. He knows the importance of the work they are doing. Yet Asuna’s stormy outbreak doesn’t even cause him to raise an eyelid.

This is one of the first encounters between Asuna and Kirito in the anime. I am immediately drawn into the scene and the meaning behind it. Here is a war of feelings I never realized I had felt myself until I saw them on display here. I have experienced both the urgency of Asuna and the peace of Kirito in my life.

This moment in Sword Art Online is a reconciliation between the two emotions: stress and contentment. I love watching how Asuna and Kirito deal with this conflict throughout the show.

In that particular scene, Kirito is undisturbed while Asuna’s words whirl over his head. He answers her ferocity by telling her it would be wasting this beautiful day to go inside a dungeon. “Right now we are alive here, in Aincrad.”

The words are simple, but effective. Asuna stops to consider her surroundings. She feels the wind and the sun alive around her. It’s something she hasn’t stopped to notice at all in all the months they have been trapped in the game. Her own enjoyment of a beautiful day surprises her.

She decides to take it in a bit more, and lies down next to him, succumbing to a nap. It is at this point where Asuna’s life in the game changes. She becomes open to the possibility of experiencing joy, even during the hardships of the game.

Later on in the show, after Asuna and Kirito become fast friends, Asuna encounters a fisherman who is filled with guilt. He has spent much of his time in this game fishing and none at all trying to escape. He has given up hope of making it out alive.

Asuna tells him he should not feel guilty. She says she had spent a lot of time focused only on getting out. It was all she could think about. She felt every day she spent in this game was a day lost in the real world. It consumed her, day and night. That was, until the day she found herself yelling at a napping Kirito.

“He wasn’t losing a day in the real world. He was gaining a day here.”

That was the day that she partied up with Kirito so they could work together at beating the game.. But that work did not stop Kirito from really living. “He wasn’t losing a day in the real world. He was gaining a day here,” she says.

I think Kirito knew a secret about life. I think he knew the importance of balance. He knew theirs was a war, not with the intent to conquer but with the intent to live in peace. He knew some tasks in life were essential. But he also knew that their importance could not become the ruler, the motivator, the reason for life and his fight.

When Asuna had thought only of escaping, she said her nights were full of weeping. In her waking days all she did was fight. It consumed her so much that she forgot why she was fighting. She was fighting to live. But in those months in which she fought to live, she didn’t actually live.

Asuna learned from Kirito that escaping wasn’t the only important thing in Sword Art Online. Forming relationships, building friendships, helping others, taking time to rest, eat, and laugh… these things were important too.

“But right now, we’re alive here,” Kirito says.

Thanks Kirito, for napping. Thanks for reminding me that I am alive here. Right now. In this life and no other.

Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson

Staff Writer at Area of Effect
Chris and his wife survive the Montreal winters with help from Harry Potter audio books and summer dreams. Chris enjoys many different books and his current reading obsession is split between G. K. Chesterton and Guy Gavriel Kay.
Christopher Johnson

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