|Sword Art Online
||[Nov. 14th, 2012|05:28 pm]
I watched the 19 episodes of Sword Art Online that have aired so far this weekend. I'm not sure what to think of it. It's an anime based on a novel series in which people playing a virtual reality MMORG called Sword Art Online (Am I the only person who thinks this is a ridiculously awkward title to say? It must be worse for Japanese people.) are trapped in the game by the game's creator. In order to get out they have to win the game. If you die in the game while it's in progress you will die in reality. If someone tries to remove the headgear connecting you to the game IRL you die. The main character is a former beta tester and hardcore gamer named Kirito in the game.
The first several episodes did not really compel me. The narrative was disjointed, skipping forward in time quite a bit and not allowing you to get to know the characters. It was hard to get a feel for the series until things settled down quite a few episodes in. It remained rather shallow for some time, even while cramming in all the tragedy one gets in these types of life-or-death stories. Thanks, music cues, for letting me know I should feel sad. I kept going because the art was pretty and Kirito has a nice voice. Plus, it was fun seeing RPG game details. While I never played those kinds of games I'd seen enough online and watching friends to appreciate such things. Once the narrative settled down, I've mostly enjoyed the anime. I have some big issues with it, such as how it goes for tragedy and melodrama a bit too hard, but can't say it's bad. I hope it ends in a satisfactory manner--I've been burned too many times to wish for "good."
One thing I liked about the first arc was that the romance actually bloomed and kept going. Usually with these things the main person and their love interest kinda keep going in the "will they get together" stage (or are doing the love-hate fighting thing) for a long time. In this one, they actually get married! And are sweet (bordering on saccharine) together, though I wish they'd let Asuna be a bit more competent and a little less...dependent. They didn't totally make her helpless (unlike in the second arc! GAH!) so I wasn't super unhappy, but I wanted her to kick more ass. They showed Kirito being vulnerable, too, thus balancing things out a bit more. Also, the night they spend together in which Kirito is gobsmacked when Asuna gets undressed? Pure hilarity.
The whole Yui "Mama/Papa" thing was cute, but also really disturbing.
I liked how the first arc ended, with Kirito realizing the leader dude was the creator. It was very neatly done and shows that Kirito is pretty sharp. I just wished they didn't have Kirito basically resurrected by sheer willpower to do the final deed. Ugh.
The second arc is annoying me in that Asuna is a princess in the tower now. She is also being sexually harassed by icky icky Koyasu, who is doing an awesome job being utterly slimy. The first villain was voiced by Yamadera very well, but he was much more cerebral. I am having a hard time with Koyasu. Otherwise, the new game is such a change from the first one in so many ways it's fun seeing it come to life.
The dynamic between Kirito and his sister disturb me. They are so unnaturally loving. It's adorable, yes, but also weirds me out. It does explain just why Kirito is so protective of all the random women/girls who crossed his path in SAO, though.
I'm a bit disappointed in how the story completely does not mention any impact SAO had in the real world. Wouldn't having thousands of people trapped in a game with a bunch dying be a big deal? Why are those VR headgear still allowed? How can someone marry an unconscious person? Where the hell is Kirito's mom? Just plain odd. This anime seems to completely avoid dealing with the ramifications of the first arc and it really bothers me. While I want to see Kirito rescue Asuna (actually, I'd like to see Asuna rescue herself and join forces with Kirito and his sister to kick icky Koyasu's ass), I wish we got to see a bit more of the wider world. :P
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