Sword Art Online 01

Starting with an introduction of the show’s setting within the first virtual reality MMO, Sword Art Online or SAO the protagonist Kazuya Kirigawa sees his younger sister off to Kendo practice as he sets up his NerveGear and enters the game just as it opens to the public.


Being greeted by the vivid virtual world of Aincrad and running through the crowds of players in awe, due to this another player, Klein notices that he’s familiar with it all and deduces that he was a beta tester, asking him for some basic tips. Of course Kirito obliges and introduces how the skills work through a charge time and letting the computer handle the rest, and from this he explains that while there are virtually unlimited skills the traditional magic skill has been omitted. Following this they both sit in awe of Sword Art Online before Klein decides to meet up with some of his friends, offering to introduce Kirito to them but noticing his discomfort he puts the matter aside and they agree to meet up later.

However it’s at this point that things take an unfortunate turn as Klein notices that the logout button is missing, putting the pizza he ordered in jeopardy even if it is just a bug, other than this the NerveGear intercept’s their brain’s signals leaving them with no way of removing it themselves. Things only get worse after this as every player is transported back to the town square where the game designer and one of the main driving forces behind NerveGear, Kayaba Akihiko presents himself as a god and reveals that this isn’t a bug, let alone any attempts to remove the NerveGear or death within Sword Art Online will kill the player in real life. In order to counter this however, the media has been informed and is spreading the dangers of attempting to remove players from the game as well as the battery within the NerveGear and time players can be disconnected, allowing emergency services to act appropriately. Alongside all of this he reveals that the only way everyone can logout is if someone clears the one hundred levels of the game, transforming all of the player’s avatars to match their physical appearances in real life and leaving with the message that his wish was to create and watch the world of Sword Art Online play out.

Knowing that from this many of the players will rush out to grind on the low-level monsters outside the city, Kirito pulls Klein aside and reveals his intention to sneak to the next villiage and avoid any competition and grind unopposed, however with his friends still in the square confused and scared Klein refuses. Putting Kirito in quite a bind as he knows that it would be difficult enough to do this with only two people, however Klein assures him that he’ll be fine with the skills he’s already picked up. To which Kirito turns his back on his first friend within Sword Art Online and runs off, affirming that he’ll do what he has to in order to survive.

Opening Theme:

“crossing field” by LiSA.

Thoughts:

Another fairly mainstream show I know but for something that’s been in my backlog for quite a while now and I’m only just starting to get into (around two thirds into the first novel as I type) this was a good start. As cliche as the idea was I just really liked all the little things in this episode, and while we barely know the characters at this point the characterisation for them was amazing.

Kirito may be kind of generic and to be honest I’m not exactly fond of the unique and special skill he’ll unveil in a few episodes and why he has it, but he’s still someone who provided a nice viewpoint for this episode, he was a teenager looking forward to one of the most anticipated games in the world that the series takes place in and while it wasn’t much this episode managed to nicely express that he has trouble dealing with other people and forming bonds with them. Furthermore establishing an inability for him to accept such, in turning his back on Klein, his first friend within SAO, and selfishly pursue self-preservation over protecting him and his friends. From what I’ve read so far he’s fairly generic and enjoys more than his fair share of luck but I still liked the characterisation that he received in this episode.

Secondly the other character we were introduced to, Klein was pretty good as well, his character seems to fit right into the charismatic-sidekick-bro character but in contrast to Kirito’s selfishness he’s someone who refuses to abandon anyone and gets along with everyone. The perfect foil for Kirito while still being a cool character on his own, he has a few slight eccentricities and in terms of playing style he’s the sort of guy who looks out for everyone on the team and helps anyone he can, it’s really hard not to like the guy and I hope he’ll end up making more appearances than he did in the novel.

Moving on as I’ve already mentioned that the idea of a game where the only way out is for the players to complete it and a death in the game constitutes a death in real life has been over done to hell and back, both comically and dramatically, I still liked the way it was presented in this episode. The vividness of the artwork and the style to it all was simply immersive, and was where these little things that I liked came up, we not only got glimpses of some of the characters before they would be introduced, but even something as small as the papercut Kirito received purely cemented the seriousness of it all. As the episode began he bid his sister off to practice and grazed his finger but thought nothing of any of it, but when he noticed it in SAO his reaction couldn’t have been anymore different. Alongside his recollections of respawning in the beta test there was just an immense weight to it all that anchored that it wasn’t a game anymore.

Now the question is where it will go from here, in the novel there’s a two-year timeskip following this point that presents an interesting spin on this overdone trope, removing the initial shock and showing the characters as they cope with what is now their day-to-day lives instead. But even so there’s a series of side stories that take place in those two years that could be inserted nicely in between,one of my main complaints with the novel being that the author built up a wonderful premise and assortment of characters but didn’t seem to have the time he needed to properly explore them, something that could be fixed by doing this and reaching its full potential. Either way even for this season’s overhyped show this was a nice start and I’m eagerly looking forward to how it will all turn out.

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7 Responses to Sword Art Online 01

  1. feal87 says:

    Quite looking forward to how they’ll play out the time the players will spend in the hospital after they’ll be saved from inside the online world. 😛
    I mean, years in an hospital? That’s going to give some serious problem after waking up…

  2. Ginnodangan says:

    I’m not exactly up to that point yet so I am too at this point, the world of SAO/Aincrad is kind of attactive in some ways but staying in it continuously for the two years that the series dictates would really screw over their bodies.

    Let alone aside from just physical atrophy there would have to be the mental aspect of it as well, readjusting to the real world which they had been torn away from for so long. I don’t exactly have spoiler tags here but Kirito is almost terrified when he sees something as minor as the hair on his arms when he wakes up, something SAO hadn’t rendered.

  3. wassup, how’s it been? =D

    came by to see what shows you’d be blogging this season.
    i was gonna marathon fate zero(finished stay night and ubw) right before it wrapped up. got in a few eps when my laptop started crapping out on me, as mentioned on my blog. it actually all started when i was watching fate zero lol.
    these days, im not in the mood to watch anime cause of high chance of my computer freezing up, which really ruins the fun.

    Im only keeping up with gundam and eureka atm

    anyway, my friend kept on telling me about sword art online(and accel world). i thought it would be one of those lower budget shows that could go on my never ending backlog. but i guess i was wrong. from the looks of your screencaps, the animation (especially the backgrounds) are actually pretty detailed lol. maybe i’ll pick this one up since you are reviewing it =D

  4. Ginnodangan says:

    Long time no see, a shame to hear that you decided to take a break at HF though people tend to criticise it’s lacklusterness it’s anything but that. The characters are cracked open and exposed while everything that could go wrong goes wrong. Either way Zero turned out nicely, the second to last episode was really restricted by the airing time but it has to be the best Fate adaptation yet.

    Stuff like that sucks, I remember being frustrated when my old laptop would always crap out and while it isn’t as bad my current one is starting to fall apart as well.

    Not sure about Accel World but Sword Art Online is good, a little shallow in some places but still a fun and easy story to get into. And with Aniplex and A-1 at the helm it should be anything but low budget, A-1 seems to be reusing their same moe face artstyle again but they’re great when it comes to actual animation.

    Also which Gundam? I never got around to AGE but I’m still keeping up with Unicorn, it was awesome to see the Banshee in action.

  5. im up to date with unicorn, but i mean i’ve been watching age.
    not quite your usual gundam, but definitely not as kiddie as it looks. it is kind of simplified for the tartget audience, but it’s still got death, and plot and stuff. despite it being a more kid friendly show, it doesnt have the monster of the week or clear cut battle of the week sort of routine. it just tells what it needs to tell at it’s own pace, like your typical gundam series. the one thing i dislike about it is how the main characters don’t get enough time to develop the relationships before it abruptly transitions to the next generation(basically an arc with massive time skip), with some support charaters disappearing without an explanation. on the other had, i think the support cast is actually pretty solid with well defined characters as they dont need to develop.
    I find the ms team commander in the third gen to be pretty interesting as an anime character. rather than a cookie cutter badass, or strict, or easygoing kind of guy, they made him into an awkwardly soft spoken, gentle, and caring young dude that always seems to be cheerful yet serious at the same time. he comes off almost as an outright pushover on first sight. yet he always seems to be extremely experienced, wise, decisive and skilled at piloting without ever breaking character. i think his traits are pretty different from anything i’ve seen so far as he’s genuinely a softy yet a badass at the same time rather than having a dark side that’s hidden

    i think you should give it a try. it seem that out of the three generations, a lot of people end up liking at least one, even if they didnt think they’d like the show at first.

  6. Ginnodangan says:

    I think I might just have to some time, the idea of a multi-generational conflict was one of the things that interested me about AGE before it came out, especially if the protagonists went through the story with the same suit (with a few modifications here and there), but I don’t think I really gave it a chance. Even if it did eventually slip away from it the childish focus and design style kind of put me off it when it started airing.

  7. if you dont put to much expectation in the mains, then i’m sure you’ll find it much more enjoyable as the support cast steal the show with what little screen time they have =D

    the main chars kind of take their sweet time and more or less abruptly develop during pivotal events or during time skips lol. knowing that, you might have a set of more reasonable expectations for the show than most others

    btw, just watched first two eps of sao. pretty interesting setup, even if it’s kind of like .hack + the tower of druaga. i need more adventure anime. i’ve had too much static settings lol. even eureka is less adventurous than i thought it’d be lol. definitely keeping up with sao =)

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