Sword Art Online: Likes and Dislikes (First Impressions)

MMOs are srs business

Now that I’ve final­ly got around to start­ing up Sword Art Online (the first three episodes), I final­ly gath­ered enough ini­tial feel­ings about this ani­me in order to write a thor­ough impres­sion on it.

I have to be hon­est here. The only oth­er ani­me series about “play­ing an online game” that I ever real­ly liked before this ever came around as an ani­ma­tion was the .hack series, if only for the strong char­ac­ter devel­op­ment, dia­logue, and feel­ing believ­able as a high-cal­iber vir­tu­al MMO, despite the haz­ardous sides to it (Mor­gan­na, Data Drain, etc.).

So how exact­ly does Sword Art Online hold up for me in comparison?

Well, I was very sur­prised. Due to all the hype sur­round­ing it and the mas­sive amounts of aver­age Accel World was to me (which was writ­ten by the same writer), I was expect­ing myself to be rather dis­ap­point­ed by it. On the con­trary, I was impressed with the pro­duc­tion val­ues and lev­el of emo­tion­al poten­tial that the first three episodes man­aged to show. 

Through the main char­ac­ter, Kir­i­to, the series already presents a hand­ful of pos­si­ble themes it will most like­ly explore: escape from real­i­ty, price of sur­vival, the will to live, appre­ci­at­ing the life you have, etc. Nat­u­ral­ly, it has­n’t been nec­es­sar­i­ly ground­break­ing yet, but it does set itself up as an inter­est­ing series and does a great job of it. It cer­tain­ly isn’t as talk­a­tive as .hack’s ani­me series and shows a lot more instances of the play­ers grind­ing rather than just hang­ing around. Yes, peo­ple, there’s action!

How­ev­er, that does­n’t mean I don’t have a few gripes with it. The whole sit­u­a­tion sur­round­ing the MMO did­n’t real­ly seem to set up a good sus­pen­sion of dis­be­lief for me, which is a com­mon prob­lem I have with these types of ani­me. While these may or may not be explained lat­er on in the sto­ry (I haven’t read the nov­el), they still leave a lot of room to think about for peo­ple who are fol­low­ing the ani­me up to this point.

  • Game hard­ware devel­op­ment in the future seems rather care­less, as well as the play­ers. As stat­ed by Kir­i­to, these Nerve Gears are built in a way that gives it poten­tial to fry your brain if pro­grammed so. It’s not like a crazy ass­hole game devel­op­er would do this for the lulz, right? RIGHT? If my Nin­ten­do 64 or Sega Dream­cast had that sort of haz­ard, I would nev­er touch them. Not even for Shen­mue.
  • Why would said devel­op­er pull a stunt like this while giv­ing the game a ton of pub­lic­i­ty? How is he get­ting away with this?
  • If he was actu­al­ly aim­ing for that amount of pop­u­lar­i­ty for some rea­son, why would he only cre­ate 10,000 copies of the game? For the most pop­u­lar MMO in Japan, that’s a pret­ty shit­ty user­base. Is it an alle­go­ry of ten years from now, when the gam­ing indus­try goes down the poop­er? Called it!
  • On the top­ic of fry­ing brains, in episode 3, there is an item which allowed the revival of a play­er with­in ten sec­onds of their death. Let me get this straight, this vir­tu­al item has the pow­er to unfry brains? Damn, sci­ence has gone a long way! Why are they even afraid of death?
  • I’m guess­ing the play­ers are on some kind of PN sup­port in their house­holds. I mean, how else would their real bod­ies sur­vive with­out sus­te­nance? I wor­ry about Klein though, since he said he lived by him­self, so no one is there to give him the PN sup­port. He’s obvi­ous­ly not dead yet, though, since your brain stops func­tion­ing when you’re, ya’ know, DEAD. So what gives?

7 thoughts on “Sword Art Online: Likes and Dislikes (First Impressions)

  1. It strikes me that the actu­al brain fry­ing is like­ly not instant upon reach­ing 0 hit points.

    So, the ‘revive with­in 10 sec­onds’ prob­a­bly works out due to the real life death sen­tence not hav­ing been car­ried out yet.

  2. I’m sure NervGear was guar­an­teed to be safe. Nobody would have imag­ined Kaya­ba would do what he did.
    Kaya­ba would have to be in hid­ing. Even if he was­n’t, what would they do if he said “If you put me in prison, I’ll kill all remain­ing pris­on­ers.” Would you risk all of the hostages to try to cap­ture him, or to try to pick apart his technology?
    He did­n’t want more than 10,000 peo­ple in his game, prob­a­bly. He prob­a­bly wants to watch them all, and it is hard if there are just too many peo­ple. Also, there might not be enough hos­pi­tal space if you start mak­ing it too large.
    You can revive them with­in 10 sec­onds because it prob­a­bly fries their brain 10 sec­onds after they die. If you use it with­in that time, they don’t get killed.
    A detail men­tioned in the nov­els that was left out — you can be dis­con­nect­ed from the game for about 2 hours. This gives peo­ple enough time to move your body to a hos­pi­tal for long term mon­i­tor­ing and recon­nect you. While dis­con­nect­ed, you prob­a­bly just remain uncon­scious. I imag­ine Kaya­ba gave instruc­tions on the best way/times to do this to ensure the safe­ty of his play­ers (don’t want to dis­con­nect some­one in the mid­dle ofa fight). If you aren’t recon­nect­ed with­in the time lim­it, NervGear kills the you.

  3. @Zober­raz: Hm, that expla­na­tion makes sense.
    @anon­per­son: ‑The fact that NervGear has the poten­tial for that kind of haz­ard is already a sign of care­less­ness. The game was cer­tain­ly safe when it got a seal of approval, I assume, but I’m guess­ing all it took was an update that made the game the way it was. That’s pret­ty dan­ger­ous, but I guess the tech­nol­o­gy was just devel­oped, so it’s under­stand­able. Still, I per­son­al­ly would­n’t touch that kind of gam­ing sys­tem dur­ing that stage. Nerv Gears red ring­ing on you would suck. From the sounds of it, the real­is­tic sen­sa­tions from the Nerv Gear makes the games very addict­ing, and I’d hate to see what hap­pens if it over­heats. Hav­ing part of my brain’s func­tions or one of my five sens­es destroyed does­n’t sound fun.
    ‑True, Kaya­ba has death threats on his side, but that goes along with my point above. All it takes is for the devel­op­er to go crazy and manip­u­late the waves emit­ted by the Nerv Gear, then you have a coun­try’s worth of peo­ple at death’s door, con­sid­er­ing how pop­u­lar MMOs are in Japan, Chi­na, and Korea.
    2022, Microsoft OS PC gam­ing has trag­i­cal­ly fall­en and Apple has risen, gg. xD;;
    — I guess, but now that his game is pop­u­lar, and he is now a known crim­i­nal, what is he going to do after the sur­vivors come back to real­i­ty? Com­mit sui­cide? I know even­tu­al­ly his motives will be explained, but right now it all seems counter-pro­duc­tive. Also, 10,000 copies does­n’t even com­pen­sate for the devel­op­ment of mod­ern MMOs — so I won­der if any­one in-uni­verse ques­tioned why such an over­hyped and rev­o­lu­tion­ary game only had 10,000 copies made for open­ing release. He’s prob­a­bly using the pop­u­lar­i­ty to try and get it out to the pub­lic for them to wit­ness what­ev­er his vision is, I spec­u­late he may end up being played off as a typ­i­cal ambi­tious mad sci­en­tist (although a very threat­en­ing vil­lain, I suppose).
    — Inter­est­ing tid­bit from the nov­el. So my PN sup­port the­o­ry was cor­rect. I’m guess­ing the author­i­ties have a list of the game’s cus­tomers so they could get Klein’s body to the hos­pi­tal as well?

  4. I wished it stayed more relis­tic or in the real world, fry­ing brains? seri­ous? well maybe so since they are in the year 2020 or some­thing but hav­ing them die as well as in rl is kin­da stu­pid in my opin­ion. So peo­ple in the real world would just sit back and watch who­ev­er is play­ing the game lay on their bed for like 2 years, would­nt the goven­ment be involved or something?
    Thats one main fac­tor that i dont like about this nov­el. also the ani­me is way WAY to rushed, hope­ful­ly it calms its hors­es lol

    1. Well, in a way I guess fry­ing the brain in real life is a real­is­tic way to kill some­one off in a vir­tu­al real­i­ty game. To be hon­est, I kind of liked .hack’s dan­ger of falling into a coma more because there was no direct proof that it had any­thing to do with the game. Here it’s kind of… yeah. lol
      As anon­per­son said, I think the gov­ern­ment is try­ing to do some­thing about it but Kaya­ba has way too much life under his hands to do any explic­it actions against him. How a mad­man became a game design­er in the first place just so he could pull this stunt, I’ll nev­er know.

  5. So the ani­me is actu­al­ly based off of a light nov­el, which has been most­ly trans­lat­ed, includ­ed what the ani­me will prob­a­bly cov­er. Many of these ques­tions are actu­al­ly answered, though some are not obvious.

    1. Rea­son for the brain-death/lim­it­ed pop­u­la­tion: The game design­er want­ed to cre­ate an alter­nate world, which infers that he prob­a­bly did­n’t want over­crowd­ing. And a world would not feel real if what hap­pened did­n’t mat­ter (like death)

    2. In the unof­fi­cial intro to the game, the main pro­gram­mer states that play­ers are allowed to be dis­con­nect for 2 hours, in order to facil­i­tate trans­porta­tion to med­ical facil­i­ties. Thus, every­one in game is on life support.

    3. All infor­ma­tion from the nov­el points to death from brain-fry to not be instan­ta­neous, allow­ing for the 10 sec­ond revive win­dow. The brain-fry is obvi­ous­ly not reversible, or the item would allow revival of char­ac­ters that died earlier.

    Most of this is actu­al­ly explained in the first part of the series, but gets missed because peo­ple are focused more on “ITS A DEATH GAME!”

    1. @Alden: I fig­ured some of these were anwsered in the light nov­el. Thanks for the extra info. Though my point still stands that it was kind of weird for an intel­li­gent boy like Kir­i­to to believe he could unfry some­one’s brain with a game item.
      Not to men­tion, there should have been SOME eye­brow-rais­ing in regards to the lim­it­ed num­ber of copies of this over­hyped game. I know gam­ing com­mu­ni­ties in real life that would find that a strange mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy. Obvi­ous­ly there was a rea­son for Kaya­ba to do this, but it’s real­ly strange for peo­ple to brush it off.

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