While Asuna, Leafa, Silica and Lisbeth were doing their homework in Kirito and Asuna's Log House on the 22nd Floor of New Aincrad, Lisbeth informed Asuna of a player known as "Zekken" (Absolute Sword) who was challenging players on the 24th Floor, while offering an 11-hit Original Sword Skill as a reward. Asuna was told that the mysterious player had actually converted from a different game and that over thirty players who had attempted to challenge the player, including Leafa and even Kirito, were defeated. Hearing that Kirito had said something to the player before being defeated and not sharing what he had said with the others and thinking that the mysterious player had come for a reason, Asuna decided to challenge the player as well. To her surprise, the player was actually a girl named Yuuki.
If Sword Art Online's arcs were to be defined as if they were music genres, the Aincrad arc could be described as a mixture of a lot of great genres. The Fairy Cancer arc would be a generic and dislikeable fithy pop trash. The Phantom Bullet arc would be a nice eletronic uptempo tune. And with the Mother's Rosario it would be a nice transitioning to a soulful R&B/Soul song if not a passionate Gospel hymn, since it deals with
religion after all (the same description can go for the magnificent Alicization arc, which is, hands downs, the best SAO arc (tied with this one)).
Sword Art Online has it's ups and downs, everyone knows that. The Aincrad arc was one of its highs and the Fairy Cancer was obviously one of its lowler lows, actually the lowest. Asuna, the badass strong fighter was turned into a damsel in distress for no apparent reason. But being the way she is she managed to help Kirito rescue her. But that tainted her status and made people question her character quality.
During the Aincrad she had personality and development. An ardent give-no-damns personality as the sub-leader of the Knights of the Blood Oath, and developing from a scared girl with no knowledge bout gaming to an empowered character with enough willpower to do the imposible for those whom she loves and cherishes the most. But she lacked a backstory, and this arc is here to change that in the best way possible.
The Mother's Rosario arc features a marvelous story, with awesome fights, deep and meaningful themes and a bittersweet yet satisfying conclusion. And I'm going to refrain from adding any other information about it in order to avoid spoilers. Because this story is something that you should see for yourself as to why even those who believe SAO to be not that great also think that this tale is an improvement from past installments.
•Better than the previous arcs.
Asuna, to me, is one of the best female characters in existence. She's a girl, a woman, a wife, a mother, a warrior, a strategist, a leader, she has ambitions and dreams and she's much more than just a pretty face. She's a multifaceted character with lots of charisma a likeability. She's able to fight and conquer whatever she wants and has enough willpower to do what's possible and impossible for those whom she treasures and loves the most.
One thing that is nice to see is that she has a lover who can stand on equal footing as her. Some of my favorite animanga girls such as Holo and Senjougahara are amazing characters but their respective lovers's personalities and desings pale in comperison to their greatness and that disapoints me. Kirisuna's gender dynamics surprised me because of the great sense of equality each one of them had. Both of them saved and were saved by their own lovers and they had some nice action scenes together, All of which were amazing since they seem to have a nice syncrony and are able to deduce and complete each other moves on a fight, but mostly in Boss fights. Simply put, Kirito & Asuna = The kind of relationship I would like to have with the woman of my dreams.
Asuna has two backgrounds. The first one being that she was a unexperienced rookie in SAO, and had a hard time dealing with the game (and even thought about killing herself in the process!) and the daughter of the RECT's CEO, Shouzou Yuuki. Now in the Mother's Rosario we get to know more about her second background, which are the hardships that a ojou-sama/heiress from a wealthy family with high expectations to fulfill faces every day and the fact that she has a really messed up family that sees her as nothing but an object to pass up the lineage. And also the fact that she has really awful parents, especially her afore mentioned father who tried to make her marry the creepy and abominable Sugou Nobuyuki for stupid reasons.
Asuna developed a lack of confidence due to everything that happened to her previously and the fact that she realized the disparity between her strong and capable virtual self and her 'powerless' (the unfitting word she used to describe herself) real self, But with a little help from a new (group of) friend(s) she develops a new outlook to life and its many hardships, all of which she's able to overcome enventually.
She's more fleshed out than ever before in this arc. Her story is something that every teenage/youngster can relate to and her notorious development is something amazing and worth pointing out. She has the biggest development in the whole series (this is a coming-of-age story after all). But you should see it for yourself to understand what I'm talking about.
The only female character worthy of the 'Ultimate Best Girl' title I've ever encountered, Asuna Yuuki is a shining example of how to write a female character. And a character whose massive popularity (fan favoritism, tons of official arts/fanarts and edits/AMVs/MADs) is definitely not underserved.
Yuuki is one of the most charismatic characters to ever grace SAO. She's strong, capable, likeable and has a story compelling enough to shatter your heart in a million of pieces. She creates a beliavable and quasi-romantic friendship bond with Asuna and her interactions with her are very entertaining to watch and see. There's nothing else that can be said without entering the 'spoilers realm' but she's an excellent character overall and someone whose presence and charisma are something to be reckoned.
She also has a nice development in the Sister's Prayer SS, which is a side story that you surelly should read, because it's really worth it.
Kirito, the steady protagonist, takes the backseat so Asuna can have her time to shine but he appears ocasionally to help Asuna and her crew. And the Sleeping Knights were all great supporting characters, all sharing similar backgrounds, their stories and the meaning behind their groups is something really meaningful and touching.
•Asuna Yuuki = Ultimate Best Grill;
•Yuuki is an excellent suporting character;
•Kirito (thankfully) has a diminished role.
Hazuki Tsubasa's art is not as good as the novel's artist, abec. But not he's, by no means, bad. The art takes some time to become great and just like in the previous adaptation, the Fairy Cancer, it fluctuates in terms of quality. Bee-pee's briliant designs never disappoint me. It's nice to see Asuna spoting a nice blue hair paired with azure pupils and a stilish dress, which is a nice yet inferior version of her Aincrad attire.
Yuuki features a stilish purple and red dress, a bandana and a (cute) ahoge. Her sword has a cool design too.
The Sleeping Knights designs were nothing out of the ordinary but they pleased me nevertheless.
The action scenes were very entertaining, specially the showdown between the Berserk Healer vs the Absolute Sword. The boss battles were also good. The dramatic scenes were not as impactful as they were in the novel but they remained moving. And the covers of each one of the volume covers were passable.
Sad, tragic, emotional and compelling are some of the words used to describe the Mother's Rosario, which is, along with the Alicization, SAO's best arc. And one thing that is nice to see is that religion, Christianity to be more precise, is finally put on a good light for at least once.
It's good to know that there's a story that may help people seeing that it doesn't matter how hard things may turn out to be all you have to do is pray and have faith and Jesus Christ is going to grant you strenght to overcome whatever issue it may be.
And I would like to finish this review with a beautiful quote from Zekken, which touched my heart deeply and I hope that it may touch other people too:
"𝒢𝑜𝒹 𝓌𝑜𝓊𝓁𝒹 𝓃𝑒𝓋𝑒𝓇 𝓅𝓊𝓉 𝓊𝓈 𝓉𝒽𝓇𝑜𝓊𝑔𝒽 𝒶𝓁𝓁 𝓉𝒽𝒾𝓈 𝓈𝓊𝒻𝒻𝑒𝓇𝒾𝓃𝑔 𝒾𝒻 𝒽𝑒 𝒹𝒾𝒹𝓃'𝓉 𝓉𝒽𝒾𝓃𝓀 𝓉𝒽𝒶𝓉 𝓌𝑒 𝒸𝑜𝓊𝓁𝒹 𝒷𝑒𝒶𝓇 𝒾𝓉." - Konno, Yuuki.
Trivia - The reason for Zekken's Original Sword Skill name.
𝓠. Please tell me the reason behind the naming of the OSS, “Mother’s Rosario”.
𝓐. It’s a technique based on the memento from my mother, a rosary.
Source: tap-trans (Popularity Contest Questions - Yuuki)
•Praise be unto the Lord this manga is a compelling masterpiece.
Simliar recommendations for those looking for stories centered around drama, friendship and character development (and maybe some religion too):
CLANNAD (and anything made by KEY), Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica, No.6, Sakamichi no Apollon, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso and Violet Evergarden.