Originally Posted by relentlessflame
In the end, since Kirito has to reach his goal by week's end, he basically gets thrust right to the forefront of everything right away, so he is incredibly overpowered in this arc. All in all, though, it doesn't really serve that much of a purpose other than getting him from Point A to B, because all his "power" doesn't really solve the fundamental problem of what he and Asuna are going to do once they meet up. So I guess I sort of take the "overpowered" thing as a necessary plot device in this arc. At least they established it from the get-go.
For me, what you just described illustrates why I think this arc's writing is so very lazy. At least the SAO arc kinda had to struggle with establishing a world and character relationships and an overhanging threat that I could buy into and find pretty interesting, and managed to do it well at times. ALO not so much.
And the (lack of) power balance has always seemed to be unnecessarily out of whack in this show. That doesn't mean all major characters must be equally strong. One of my favorite male-female character dynamics of all time is Shichika and Togame in Katanagatari, which was not even remotely balanced, but was skillfully built around that.
The one time I feel like they really
nailed it perfectly was episode 13. I wrote this about episode 13:
"I'd normally be mad at Kirito for asking Asuna to stay out of this upcoming boss run, but this time it was presented really well. It's not just Kirito being a tough-guy protagonist protecting the girl; it's Kirito scared shitless and on the verge of a mental breakdown. That's so much more interesting to see than cliche heroism. Asuna's reply was pretty great too. It could be taken as "I have no life outside of you, you're the only reason I matter" but that's not what I really heard from her words.
Kirito's fear and hesitation in this episode made him so much more interesting and believable a character. It built on earlier scenes that had done this well too, but it's a lot more important now that he's going through those emotions with someone else.
Asuna had a great performance in his episode too, both in terms of getting to kick some ass, and in terms of really coming across as an equal to Kirito in every sense. I don't necessarily mean that she's equally powerful in-game, but certainly powerful enough to stand beside him, to work with him, to be a team. I was also really impressed with how she was the one who had her emotional shit together, so to speak, and kept Kirito focused even while she herself was just as scared as he was."
I want that
show back. I really, really want that show back, badly. It took so long to finally obtain it, to give Kirito real emotional depth, and then that show just dissolved before my eyes.
I think this (plus ♥Yui♥) is why I didn't drop the show immediately after episode 15 no matter how infuriating it's been since. I've seen what it can
be. And I keep hoping it achieves that again. Unfortunately each additional episode tells me I'm being hopelessly naive.