*** WARNING MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***
On this addition of Anime Talk I want to discuss the anime series “Sword Art Online”. For those who do not know, Sword Art Online, or SAO for short is an anime about people being trapped inside a Virtual reality MMO computer game. Now before I go any further with this discussion I want to address the one thing I always see or hear come up when this series is discussed, which is .hack. Now I honestly do not know if SAO is a “ripoff” of .hack, or if .hack is a ripoff of SAO and honestly I don’t care. The premises of both series may be similar but the difference between the two are so large that I personally do not think either could be considered a true ripoff.
Now I would like to say that at this point and time I have only seen the first season of this series and a single episode of season two. I loved season one, but have heard some bad things about season two and the single episode I saw of S2 leaves me fearful for the rest of the series. That being said lets get into this discussion. SAO starts off One the official launch day of the game and our main character Kirito who was a betas tester meeting a new player and showing him the ropes. After a while the noob decided it’s time to log out only to learn that there is not command in the game menu to do so which surprises Kirito who also can not find a way to log out.
It is at this point that all the players logged in, about 10,000 of them are teleported to the main starting area of the game where it is announced that the missing ability to log out is not a bug but a feature of the game by the games designer. The player are informed that they are trapped in the game until someone beats the final boss, and that unlike other MMO’s in this one you only have one life. It is further explained that should anyone in the real world try to remove the VR gear, they Microwaves in the VR helmet will fry the players brain and Kill the player and should the player die in game they will die in the real world via the same microwaves.
One last nasty trick that the System admin play on the players, is a little gift that changes every player from the generated avatar they started with and reverts them to there true real life appearance. This leads to a few humorous incidents where some of the “girl” players turn out to really be guys, and similar “online lies” exposed.
At this point Kirito sets out on his own using his knowledge from being a beta tester to his advantage to in hope of ensuring his survival even to the point of leaving his new friend behind after said new friend said he had to wait for his friends from another game to meet up with him. Throughout the series it is guilt from this abandoning of his friend and a few other incidents from his keeping secrets that drives him to being the best player possible but to also remain a solo player, not joining a guild or joining with out players for raids unless he has to, at least until he and the main female character Asuna hook up. I have to say I love how Kirito becomes a but inspiration for may of the other player while he tries to maintain his distance from everyone because of his feelings of guilt. There were moments when the series could have fallen into the Harem genre though it never quite made it there, though I hear that changes in the second season, but since I haven’t watched it yet I can not comment on that. I don’t want to spoil things for people who haven’t watched it yet, despite the spoiler warnings I put up at the beginning, so I will end this post by saying that I highly recommend anyone who has not seen Sword Art Online to give it a chance, especially if you are a MMO player, likes the Fantasy genre or just a fan of anime in general, you just might like it.
Once I see season two I may revisit SAO for another furture Anime Talk!