Sword Art Online – GOOD GOSH GOLLY GEE WILLAKERS GUYS SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE ABOUT THIS DUMPSTERFIRE!
Now, normally I wouldn’t make a follow up post like this, but SAO might be the worst anime I have ever seen, or at the very least my most hated one. Worst of all time, debatable.
For those of you who don’t know, Sword Art Online is an anime about gamers who get trapped inside a video game by the creator of the game Sword Art Online, Kayaba Akihiko. SAO comes out, selling only 10,000 copies and people go insane trying to get their hands on a copy. Kayaba developed a new game system called nerve gear. Think of it like incredibly advanced VR. Your body is incapacitated so you don’t move around in the real world while your mind controls your character like it would your real body. Once inside the released game, however, the players discover that there is no way to log out. Kayaba appears in the sky and informs them that if they die in the game, their nerve gear will basically fry their brain, killing them in real life. Furthermore, if someone on the outside tries to manually remove the nerve gear, the same effect happens to the player.
Cool concept right? Well guess what? They FUCKING ruined it! I WISH this anime was good. Here’s the thing, it’s marketed as an action video game show, but quickly devolves into this shitty romance between the protagonist and a secondary character. The worst part, this concept reaches to about halfway through the first season when they anticlimactically beat the game. You see, Kayaba got tired of being on the outside looking in so he started playing. Of course, being the creator he didn’t want to die and used code to make himself immortal in game. The point of the game is to get through 100 floors of monsters and bosses to escape Castle Aincrad. They discover who Kayaba is on floor 75 and he makes a deal with the protagonist. If Kirito (the protagonist) can defeat Kayaba in a duel they will be released from the game and, through plot armor, Kirito clutches victory. And when I say clutch, understand that it’s through the most bullshit mechanics. FIRSTLY Kirito loses. Kayaba kills Asuna (shitty romance secondary) and then Kirito. INEXPLICABLY Kirito’s character doesn’t die. INSTEAD he starts to fade from existence and through SHEER WILLPOWER OVERRIDES THE GAME CODE TO STAY ALIVE JUST LONG ENOUGH TO GET A FINISHING BLOW ON KAYABA.
Then, were taken to some ‘heaven’ zone where they (dead Kayaba, dead Kirito and dead Asuna) overlook a crumbling Castle Aincrad. Kayaba reveals the reason he did all of this to these 10,000 people. The whole point behind his desire to trap a whole bunch of people in a deathgame. “I dOn’T eVeN rEmEmBeR aNyMoRe.” THAT’S HIS ENTIRE REASON. SOME PEOPLE GOT IN A BOOTH ONE DAY AND DECIDED, ‘ViDeO gAmE sHoW, tHaT wOuLd Be NeAtO,’ AND SHIT OUT THIS SHOW. I have NO IDEA what makes it as popular as it is. It’s not even a love to hate thing, I’ve heard people talking about liking the show, but of course not A SINGLE GOOD REASON REACHES MY EARS.
Ok, ok, fine like what you like, but if you thought its bad so far, BOY OH BOY are you wrong. You see, this is all the first half of the first season and still there’s more to be said. I won’t say anything about the second half because I’m not as fresh with it and this is already longer than I intended, and I haven’t seen beyond that because Aniplex won’t stop pumping out ‘content’ but I’ll just say that the entirety of the second half of the first season is basically driven by rape, which in fairness is still a better reason than Kayaba had. Also incest because AnImE iS jUsT qUiRkY tHaT wAy.
So, let’s get down to what really gets to me about this show. Done right, all that other stuff could be inconsequential, but if you thought that I was exaggerating when I said people in a room just thought it would be neato, let me convince you. You see, someone who wanted to make the show because of a love for video games wouldn’t have done close to the same as Aniplex. For starters, all the players act like soldiers. In the second episode, one player can be seen giving orders to a group of other players. Now, in the second episode, two months have passed and the first floor hasn’t been cleared yet (YaH fUcKiNg RiGhT) because they haven’t found the boss room yet (YAH FUCKING RIGHT) and everyone just follows his orders to the boss and through the boss room without question (YAH FUCKING RIGHT) Ok FIRST OF ALL, if you’ve ever played any online anything ever you know that’s NOT HOW GAMERS ACT. Secondly, this game only released 10,000 copies. That means, people were queued up for days to get their hands on the copy (even the show admits this) which only a certain type of gamer would do. These are ELITE gamers in Japan who, not only don’t beat the game in those two months (YAH FUCKING RIGHT) but drop like flies. In the first two months 2000 people die. (They still haven’t even found the first boss yet so, again I say… YAH FUCKING RIGHT) Oh, by the way, this is still the SECOND EPISODE. In the end, this commander takes a killing blow. Kirito offers him a healing potion which he turns down for no reason at all. Literally, he just pushes it away while his health slowly depletes. ‘Oh ItS nO pRoBlEm, I oFfErEd My LiFe ThE mOmEnT i BeCaMe A sOlDiEr…’ OH WAIT. Then the episode ends with Kirito and Asuna beating the boss and Kirito getting the rare drop from the boss that will distinguish his character through the series.
NOW THAT THAT’S OVER let’s spend the next few episodes doing absolutely nothing productive while having text overlays telling what floor they’re on. Hey, remember when it took two months to so much as find the first boss? Well, the very next episode starts on floor 11… WOmp woooomp. They blasé through floors like nothing after that with no explanation while Kirito (marketed as the best player) dicks around doing nothing. Episode three he joins a guild who gets themselves killed. Episode four he helps some loli revive an in-game pet. Episodes five and six (ooh a two parter) he solves a murder that occurred, in a safe zone? Holy golly what’s gonna happen!? Episode seven he gets a rare metal for a new sword (the only remotely productive thing he’s done so far) Episode eight he GOES ON A DATE WITH ASUNA and then go find the boss on floor… SEVENTY-FOUR. And just like that were almost done in Aincrad. The next episode they beat the boss and floor 75 is where they find Kayaba. WOOHOOGOODSTORYTELLING.
Through the entirety of the shows time in Castle Aincrad, we see three boss fights… across 75 floors… not including Kayaba, which I don’t, because that’s a pvp dick measuring duel. Or if you count the event boss Kirito fights in the third episode which I don’t because you see the boss but the INSTANT Kirito rushes him it cuts to him leaving the boss room victoriously. I bet you thought I forgot about the shitty romance right? WELL GUESS WHAT? They get to that right after floor 74, wHaT eVeRyOnE wAs WaItInG fOr! Asuna is a part of the top guild in game and after beating the floor 74 boss she and Kirito GO ON VACATION IN A VIDEO GAME where they find their child. Literally. They find some random kid and are like, ‘You are my child now.’ I know what you’re thinking, ‘I bet that girl wasn’t anyone’s, it was just code designed to look like a child for no reason right?’ Well, that’s a pretty good guess because she is a piece of code disguised as a little girl that was implemented in the game to watch over the players. Kayaba didn’t turn it off when he changed code to murder people, he just took her power forcing her to watch so she broke out of her prison to roam around the game and find Kirito and Asuna. Do you understand? Yeah, me neither.
After they learn what she is, they fight a leven 90 enemy on the first floor. (Wait WAT). Yeah, they enter a dungeon that expands more the more floors are cleared. In fairness, thats a cool consept but lets remember that ThEy HaVeN’t GoTtEn To FLOOR 90! ANyway, they learn what Yui (their ‘child’) is after she uses her AI god powers to defeat the monster. They are right outside of a room with a console for the devs to use in case of emergency which is in a player accessible dingeon… for… some reason. Yui breaks into this to defeat the level 90 monster and save her family! After doing this, the game realizes what she did (yes, thats the actual explination in the show) and sees her as a foreign object. Luckily, she was able to explain everything to Kirito who hacks into the console where he has access to everything about the game. So what does he do? Does he shut down the servers from the inside and free everyone? OF COURSE NOT! Instead he chooses to turn Yui into an in game object tied to his nerve gear and save her. WhAt A hErO!
After two weeks of vacation they ‘defeat’ Kayaba. NOW THAT WE ALL UNDERSTAND WHY THE SHOW IS BAD LET’S GO OVER GAME MECHANICS. Firstly, this is a new release when the show starts. This being an incredibly new idea with innovative new software, you’d expect a few bugs right? Well of course not. There’s no lagging or glitches or even bad internet. The game runs perfectly no problem. “Well, maybe someone doesn’t die in game, what happens if their internet craps out, this being an online game?” I hear you screaming through your screens. Well no, no one’s internet goes out ever. “Well, with 10,000 people on one server, I suppose you could expect the server to crash killing or freeing everyone at once, right?” Nope never. Runs smooth and everything is fine. “Well, ok, but with Kayaba spending so much time in game, and 10,000 people being trapped for 2 years being such big news, wouldn’t the authorities have found Kayaba by now and forced him to safely shut down the server?” Of course not, it isn’t even addressed. “Well, with these players lying in bed for 2 years, wouldn’t they die of natural causes without life support or anything?” Well, of course they would. That’s why they’re moved to hospitals. That’s where Kirito wakes up. “Oh ok, at least they thought of something. So, how did they keep him online while they moved him to the hospital?” It’s anyone’s fucking guess. And of course, the hospital has as good internet as Kiritos house. Also, let it be known that in the beginning of the first episode, Kirito plugs an Ethernet into his nerve gear implying that wireless internet isn’t an option. “Well, maybe that’s just to have a stronger connection and there is WiFi built into the gear that can be accessed from the outside while Kirito is in game.” I can buy that, considering Kirito isn’t plugged into an Ethernet when he wakes up. That only means that he had to be SEAMLESSLY transitioned to someone’s WiFi hotspot while he was transported to the hospital and AGAIN when he arrived at the hospital whose internet is as good as his.
Let it be known, Kirito plays an MMO using HOSPITAL INTERNET FOR AT LEAST A YEAR AND A HALF STRAIGHT WITHOUT SO MUCH AS A HICKUP. ONE power surge and Kirito dies. So I guess we can chalk this up to Japanese innovation? Or plot armor… which apparently has infinite protection without need of explanation.
Edit: I recently discovered that there is some mention of what happens when they’re moved to hospitals. They talk about it briefly before fighting Kayaba on floor 75. The players were just offline… thats it. Their in game avatars were there, but they were passed out (not how offline works) which means they can be taken offline from the outside and survive. Few issues here, firstly, why wouldn’t they just be kept offline to ensure they don’t die in game while real detectives find out what to do? Secondly, if they can be taken offline, how is that different than logging them out from the outside? They could just be logged out, be awake in the real world, but not tamper with or try to remove the nerve gear until they know how to do it safely. Just a thought. You know what would be cool? If the creators put any type of thought at all into this show.
This show could be good. It had so much potential from the start. I want to see them struggle to clear bosses. I want to see them figuring out good strategies to fight the bosses and survive. I want to see gamers struggle to put aside what they would normally do for a game and work together to survive. I want to see the mental strain these gamers are put through when the wondrous world of video games that they use to escape reality for a time becomes a harsher reality then the one the left behind. I’d rather have a long series focused on the floors of Aincrad than half a season about nothing.
Let the record show that there’s about to be a live action adaptation for this. Netflix thinks it’s good enough for a live action adaptation. Which I will watch to its entirety because I hate myself. I’m kind of hoping that, considering Netflix takes really good shows and turns them into hot garbage, if they start with hot garbage it will have some reverse effect where their adaptation will actually be good. Either that or we get to see just how bad live action adaptations can really get.
Oh, one final thought. One good thing did come out of SAO’s existence. There is a YouTube series called Sword Art Online Abridged by a channel called Something Witty Entertainment. They basically cut up video segments and do their own voice overs. It’s excellent and they deserve way more support than SAO ever got. You don’t have to love anime or have seen SAO to get something out of it, but being at least somewhat familiar with video games, especially MMO’s is important.
Sorry for the long post, I just didn’t want to split it in parts.
TL,DR: SAO is overrated garbage