Thoughts on Sword Art Online

First Impressions out eventually.

Sword Art Online is arguably my most anticipated show of the season. It’s one the few shows that I’ve actually read the source to prior to viewing; I usually don’t, since I assume that that will detract from my overall enjoyment. Needless to say, the light novel was really great; if it’s adapted faithfully and well, then Sword Art Online should turn out to be one the best shows this season. I’ll be doing this review a little different than my Fate/Zero [extensive analysis] reviews, since SAO doesn’t require that. But, it won’t be quite like my normal episodic theorycrafting either [I know what happens]. I’ll compile the mechanics introduced, compare the source with the adaptation, and comment on the how similar/different it was to when I watched it.

Fuck, UTW still has not released SAO. Waiting blows, but I suppose it’ll be worth it. I’ll just begin rambling on about what I liked about Sword Art Online without delving into or revealing any explicit spoilers, or anything of that sort. What sets Sword Art Online apart from most other series is not the world itself [It’s not quite as in-depth when compared to entire universes, like the Nasuverse or just the simple worlds of Bleach/Naruto]. But, it doesn’t quite laze in that department either. I am [or at least used to] be an avid gamer [most namely, MMORPGs]. Logically, the concept of SAO is a shitty one. A linear progression system from floor 1 to floor 100 isn’t exactly innovative or fun, it seems extremely trite, something you would find during the days of Pacman. What does set SAO apart is how eager the author is to describe how combat works [That’s a bit of an understatement; during a certain sensual scene, the author went on to describe “how the mechanics of this work” in the midst of intimate action]. But then again, SAO doesn’t thrive in experiencing an MMO in third person, but rather, in first person, vicariously through the NervGear [the mechanics aren’t half-butchered attempts to add more to the story; they’re consistent, and logical; you can foreshadow numerous developments, gauge encounters based off knowledge of the system alone; it’s similar to rolling an alt on an MMORPG against rolling a completely new character].

Anyways, past the integrated mechanics of the game, lies something extremely great [the mechanics of how the world functions was great, but it wasn’t what drew me so deeply into the novel]. It’s the character interactions, the social life [most namely between our protagonist and heroine; Kirito and Asuna]. The romance between the two develop fairly fast, it’s not something that develops over ten novels, it took half of the first novel. That kind of development killed the awkward sexual tension, or any other banal cliches from damaging the actual storytelling, the characterization. It’s an extremely smart move; I really like romance in series. I’ve found myself enjoying romances much more when the relationship is set [meaningfully mind you], rather than a never-ending tale of bickering over “Why did you look at her like that.” [series like After Story and the gataries appeal greatly to the former]

But aside from the main characters, the overall interactions between the characters were great. Some may view this as a harem [since Kirito is so often in the company of numerous females]. But as the author describes him, Kirito is similar to a detective, helping each victim [Similar to Koyomi Araragi from the gataries; he’ll protect anyone of his friends/family members with a fervent zeal, but he’ll only look to Senjougahara as a primary romance; in this case, Kirito helps his friends but loves Asuna in a unique way.] You’ll see Kirito developed in a rather unique way; he’s not quite the social butterfly I insinuate him to be; but rather, he’s a bit more complex than that [so are most of the characters honestly, they all have their reasons].

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