Waiting for UTWoots is a bit fruitless. The difference between them and HorribleSubs isn’t ridiculously large; I mainly used UTWoots for their translation of Fate/Zero [which they excelled at]. But since I already know the jargon/idiosyncrasies specific to Sword Art Online [something that I didn’t know for Fate/Zero], it’s a bit pointless. I’ll use HorribleSubs in subsequent weeks to get the reviews faster [Much better than writing an entry at 12 PM].
Anyways, this adaptation should be much easier than Aria’s. Aria is over two-hundred pages, and it contains complex character development [shit that can’t be rushed and crammed into ten minutes]; the Red-Nose Reindeer side story from Volume 2 is forty-seven pages long; it contains numerous emotional moments, but it’s more lenient on the complexities that Aria’s’s adaptation failed to cover.
Sword Art Online: Aria; Its Shitty Adaptation
Fuck yes, a good adaptation. I was initially wary of this episode; Aria’s adaptation was ridiculously underwhelming, this episode in a sense, made the adaptation better[not quite making up for it; Aria’s pretty god damn significant and integral to the series].
Let’s begin with the mechanics. Sword Art Online’s adaptation significantly cut out the mechanics of how the world functioned. The author went into excruciating detail over every simple development; if something new occurred, he explained it. The adaptation on the other hand, neglects to mention most of it.
Kirito’s «Tracing»: Contrary to maxing combative/offensive skills, he maxed his «Tracing». This gave him the unique ability of easily tracking down Sachi. You’ll see this skill as a recurring thing in the series; it goes well with Kirito’s nature.
Inventory System: There are three primary types of inventory in Sword Art Online. Individual inventory, shared inventory [specific to two people], and married inventory [quite a strange way to phrase it]. Most players stay within the realm of individual inventory; only you can access it, nobody else. Let’s create a bank analogy. An individual inventory would be similar to having your own, personal bank account; only you can deposit and withdraw items/money. A shared inventory would be similar to a shared account; only you, and the person you gave permission to can access it [You still have your individual accounts for your personal needs]. Lastly, there’s married inventory; it essentially merges your inventories. That means that your significant other can access your inventory at any given time, not only limited to the shared account. In Kirito and Sachi’s case, they had a shared inventory. Sachi recorded a message that would be played on the 25th of December, or Christmas. Now, she didn’t plan to die [although she was sure of it]; in the novel, she mentioned that if she did manage to survive until Christmas, she would have removed the crystal from the shared inventory. I liked her monologue in the adaptation, yet her speech in the light novel was much more powerful. The tone she set, her holding Kirito analogous and reminiscent of a father, and her song [had lyrics].
Gameplay: A traditional MMORPG party is composed of a tank, a healer, and numerous damage dealers. In their case, they had damage dealers, but they were missing a tank. Sachi was originally a lance user [it fits her character — keeps a distance away from actual combat]. However, her group members pestered her to transition into the tanking role, or someone that would be prone to the front lines, the brunt of the damage [antithetical to Sachi’s nature]. If Sachi actually did tank, she would have died much earlier; Kirito was in the party, so he took on the role of tanking.
Switching: This is a relatively rudimentary aspect of Sword Art Online combat. Switching revolves alternating targets, passing off aggro [who the monster attacks] from one member to another. Now, why is this crucial? Potions in Sword Art Online aren’t instantaneous; they take a while; they heal over time [there are crystals that are instantaneous, but they’re expensive]. So, to avoid death, members of a party alternate positions in taking damage; this allows them to continue damaging the target, while healing.
«Anti-Teleportation Zones»: The members of Kirito’s guild triggered a trap, resulting in the spawning of numerous waves of monsters. This would prove to be an extremely bad scenario; they attempted to teleport. Now, teleportation crystals aren’t common items; they’re expensive shit, you use it in emergencies. Given this,«Anti-Teleportation Zones» are seldom found on the lower floors; it’s usually found in the higher floors.
Level Psychology: The members of the guild were around the level of the monsters of the floor. But, as many MMORPG players may know, fighting monsters the same level as you is challenging [it could result in your death; that’s a variable that isn’t practical in this game]. Given this, most players attempt floors many levels below their actual level [usually around 5-6]. In this case, 30+ equal-leveled mobs resulted in a near wipe.
Time Skip: There was a relatively significant time skip between Sachi’s death, and Kirito’s Christmas adventure. Kirito was around level 40 during the former, while in the latter, he’s level 70. The adaptation did bother to list the floor, but for those who weren’t paying attention, it may have appeared to be a near instantaneous transition [a bit too noninvasive in this case, too subtle].
Boss Fight: Kirito did not effortlessly beat the shit out of the Christmas boss. He’s been playing the game for over a year; this boss fight was the first time that his HP entered the red zone. Yes, there wasn’t enough time in the adaptation to show this, so I’m glad that they prioritized Sachi’s monologue over a petty, insignificant [in the large picture] fight scene.
Kirito-Guild interaction: Why didn’t Kirito reveal his “true level?” Because he was a «Beater». As you may remember from the previous level, he acted like an arrogant tool to scapegoat the hatred to him, a «Beater». [contrary to being just an average beta tester]. In his case, he couldn’t have given away his status as a«Beater»., it would have resulted in his being hated. When the group entered the boss room, they were met with a chest. The adaptation neglects to mention that group heeded to Kirito’s initial warning. When asked for a reason, Kirito couldn’t provide one [He couldn’t go “I know because I’m a «Beater»!”]. I should also mention that his survival was due to his using of high-level Sword Skills; prior to this, he didn’t reveal much of his actual abilities to the guild. But since they were sort of dead, that no longer became a problem.
Kirito-Sachi interaction: This aspect bothered me the most about the adaptation. Kirito did not like Sachi romantically. They “used” each other; Sachi wanted to feel safer, while Kirito wanted to lessen his guilt of being a Beater.
“One thing I was certain of though was that Sachi and I didn’t have a romantic relationship. We never slept in the same bed together, never cuddled each other, talk about love or even look at each other. Our relationship was more likely stray cats that were licking each other’s wounds. Sachi would forget about her fear a bit because of my words, and I would rely on her to forget the guilt that I was a beater.”
Why the adaptation failed to do this, I don’t fucking know. They could have avoided this misunderstanding completely by not having Kirito and Sachi share a bed, and by including the ending lines of her monologue [which held Kirito analogous as a father figure; Sachi never had one; her father abandoned her at a young age].
It’s extremely difficult to watch a series after reading the source without feeling underwhelmed. The novel was extremely enjoyable, the adaptation was “good.” I’ll probably find difficulty in praising it; I can’t help but mention what it doesn’t have, how it could have been done better. Nevertheless, this episode was slightly rushed, but nowhere as “bad” as Aria’s adaptation. It’s a good sign for now, but I can’t help but wish for something more.
As always, here’s the download link to the light novel. Sachi’s monologue begins on page 312.
EDIT: of Volume 2 [Volume 2 is composed entirely of short stories]
8/10: I’m content with the episode. Not quite one to laud, but not one to condemn. They covered the necessities, but covering the more important supplements would have been nice. The ambiguity during some parts of it detracts from the score, while the handling of some scenes raise it [the animation for the last season was done fucking fantastically, if only they adapted more of her monologue].