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?