A great fucking adaptation.
This was one of the easiest episodes to adapt [relatively short side story, and there’s not a lot of complex character development outside the basics]. Needless to say, I’m beginning to have more faith in the adaptation [Aria’s adaptation still irritates me, but the first and third episode were done well enough]. Nevertheless, there are still some points that could not have been covered in the adaptation; I’ll go over them.
Beast Tamers: As we know, there aren’t classes in Sword Art Online. Your “class”, or role is more so decided by the weapons you decide to use [damage roles, or tanking roles — there are no healers]. In this case, Scilica’s known as a «Dragon Master». But, that title isn’t an “official” one, it’s more so one aptly given to her by her fans. The workings of how to become a beast tamer is still relatively engimatic; it appears to be an event based on serendipity rather than on set occurrences. Of the set rules that we do know about Beast Tamers, the size limit of the familiars to be tamed are given: it has to be relatively small. The familiar is typically tamed by giving it food after it shows interest in the player. There are numerous types of familiars; Scilica has a «Feathery Dragon». Keep in mind that the familiars are aggressive in the wild, and they do attack; killing too many of the set familiar type will make taming it impossible. Familiars provide minimal support, among those includes a small amount of healing.
Floor of Residence: There are one-hundred floors in Sword Art Online, each floor has its capital town. Players may buy houses in the town, but for the vagarious types, like Kirito, towns are hardly different in terms of living arrangements [most inns are relatively identical in layout, the only difference would be the food]. In this case, Scilica’s home floor is on the eighth floor, since she likes the cheesecake there [In Aria, Kirito resided in an anomalous residence, a hidden farm house; he stayed there for the considerably larger rooms, and free milk].
Real Life: Scilica questioned Kirito on his life outside SAO [HorribleSubs translated this as being impolite]. But, this isn’t only impolite, it’s rather taboo in Sword Art Online. Perhaps if SAO wasn’t a death game, then the players of it could assume otherwise; but, to the players living in SAO, they have to treat it as their one and only “life.” Otherwise, it may attenuate the effect of them actually dying in the game; they wouldn’t take the game seriously if they didn’t consider the game as their one and only life. In Kirito’s case, he lived an average gamer life at home [In the later volumes, he’s regarded as being a computer genius for programming and building his own computer (because Windows is overrated and ordering parts and constructing a computer parallels with being a genius]. The adaptation didn’t mention that Kirito’s grandfather was a renowned kendo practitioner [he was a dan of some sort, I’d have to search the later volumes for it].
«Tracing»: As we saw in this episode, Kirito’s «Tracing» ability makes another appearance. This will be a recurring thing, if he sporadically notices something, it’s due to this ability. He has an incredibly high «Tracing» skill; it suits his character extremely well [the cautious type]. Another skill that was mentioned was the «Eavesdropping» ability. That skill is seldom trained, since it has the connotation of being only used by orange/red players.
«Anti-Criminal Code Effective Area».: Inn rooms in Sword Art Online, are, naturally hermetically soundproof. They’re also inherently locked to everyone else but the person who resides in the room [It’s the darker side of SAO, it prevents people from coming in to do stuff; sleeping in SAO is system controlled, it’s difficult to wake up]. The «Anti-Criminal Code» restrictions is prominent throughout towns; it’s “impossible” to damage a player inside the zone. If one violates the «Anti-Criminal Code» outside of town, then they’ll be either orange [as an offender], or red [as a murderer]. Rosalia led a guild of bandits, they were primarily orange, with the exception of her, who was green [she acted as bait]. Think of it as being flagged in a traditional MMORPG setting, if you attack someone orange or red, there are no penalties for you [I’ll enunciate more on the «Anti-Criminal Code» in the next episodic entry; it’s used more there]. Kirito’s moment of badassery resulted in him being turned orange, but the smaller fish tend to not pick on the big fish.
Level Disparity: As Kirito mentioned, in every MMORPG, level is a huge thing. No amount of skill can make up for a noticeable level difference; it’s not a matter of willpower, ability, or determinations; it’s a matter of raw statistics [SAO’s system is split into a dichotomy, player skill is needed for some portions, but «Sword Skills» are assisted by the system [without the system assisting, some moves could not be used, skills or abilities that require a certain speed]. Rosalia and the bandits are middle-level players in their 40s; Kirito is level 78. Most players try to keep up with the median level [more of a psychological thing, they’d rather not be on the lower tiers]. Clearers, or those on the front line are regarded as the elite of the game; Kirito’s a bit distinguished from the “average elite” because he’s a solo player [You can’t alternate monster aggro while soloing, it’s more dangerous]. As a side note, do keep in mind that it has been well over a year since the game began, our characters have aged. It should be noticeable in their physical attributes.
«Flower Garden»: The «Flower Garden» in the light novel isn’t especially significant, but it was used to tell the attributes of a certain mechanic: the «Digital Focusing System». Not everything in Sword Art Online is in high resolution, otherwise it would be incredibly difficult for the server to render everything around the players in pixel perfect quality. It’s not a pragmatic thing to do, so the system has the «Digital Focusing System» instilled. The «Digital Focusing System» could be held parallel to our eyes, the optimal visual detail will only be given if you focus on the target at hand. Scilica was actually afraid of crashing the system by appreciating the fine details of the map at first, but she gives in to her impulse during this scene.
«The Aincrad Liberation Force»: Or more commonly known as the Army, they’re Sword Art Online’s largest guild. It consists of ~3 thousand players, many of which reside on the first floor [those who did not risk adventuring for the chance of death]. The Army essentially started as an organization comparable to a modern-day Red Cross, but it eventually transcended into becoming a despotic, militant group that was more focused on maintaining order, rather than giving aid [they began to tax the citizens and such, albeit this was due in part to corruption]. When Kirito threatened Rosalia and pals with jail, the other side of the teleportation crystal led to presumably, the «Black Iron Castle», the Army’s headquarters [presumably where the prison is kept]. The Army will play a much more prominent role in later chapters [rather than just an allusion].
Scilica: I thought that the anime was decent in developing her character, but they missed the idiosyncrasies that she boasted. Among that was her actual age; she entered the game when she was twelve, she’s thirteen now. In context, this makes things oddly uncomfortable [there’s a bunch of older men idolizing a preteen]. Anyways, aside from that and her twin tails, she’s a mid-level player. She’s actually renowned as being one of the “top” mid-level players, but that could be due to her prominence as being the «Dragon Tamer». She’s not a very complicated character as of this episode.
Scilica-Fina Interaction: Their relation really wasn’t developed, but I can’t exactly blame the adaptation for that [their relationship was narrated, not shown through physical actions]. Scilica came into SAO as a twelve-year old girl, she was scared and paralyzed by a trepidatious anxiety; she confided in Fina, and with that, she grew stronger [Fida is an NPC, but it does help to have something to listen to you; as the light novel says, Scilica found most comforting “the warmth and comfort that Fina’s very existence brought…Fina was a savior that was hard to explain with words”]. She named the dragon after her pet cat in the real world.
Kirito-Side Character Interaction: Sword Art Online is not a harem. The author paralleled Kirito with the role akin to that of a detective. He travels across the SAO world, and helps those with their problems. Along the way, he generally becomes attuned to a greater understanding of not only himself, but other people [keep in mind, he’s still haunted by his past evils, his interacting with friends will be cathartic to say the very least. If I had to hold an anime analogy, I’d compare him with Koyomi Araragi. Koyomi would do anything for his friends, he would go through the depths of hell in order to safeguard the safety of those around him [
many all of his friends are female], but at the end of the day, his only romantic affiliation will be with Senjougahara. Kirito is similar, he will help those that he encounters, he treasures friendship; but his only romantic interest will be Asuna.
Great episode, probably the best one yet. This was the easiest adaptation [length and content wise]. The next episode should be difficult, I’m hoping to see it as a two parter, it’ll be rather rushed with a single episode [Like Aria]. I still believe that SAO should have adapted only its first arc, rather than the first two; albeit the first arc does end with a cliffhanger, so it is a bit reasonable, but it is still somewhat irking [then again, this is purely from an adaptation viewpoint; there’s a matter of fiscal viewpoints to be considered].
9/10 for the episode.
Downloads links for the light novel from BakaTsuki.