Sword Art Online: Murder Mystery Part 1


A bit rushed.


The previous episodes were relatively short adaptations [~70 pages]; the Murder Mystery on the other hand, is 209 pages long. The most logical way would be to adapt it in three parts, but it’s not exactly practical given the time [I already detest adapting the SAO arc within half a season]. I thought the mystery was written very well; the author developed both the game mechanics [in a way, it intertwined them and created an amalgam of great writing], and the mystery itself; it wasn’t written halfassedly. I’m afraid the adaptation will go over the most objective portions of it; it’s going to ignore most of the mechanics that the author integrated in with the storyline, and it’s going to lose some characterization. I’ll assume that the mystery is not being adapted completely chronologically, so I’ll skip some developments that were covered within the 116 pages that this first part did cover; but, if it’s not covered in the next episode, I’ll enunciate on them during the subsequent entry.

Mechanics


Sleeping: Sleeping in SAO is a bit unique; it’s as difficult to fall asleep in SAO as it is in real life, but once you’re asleep, it’s a bit difficult to wake up. Given this, if a player is training in the fields away from town, the Anti-Criminal Code doesn’t take effect, and in doing so, your body is vulnerable to monsters, and to players. Players can do a variety of things to you, use your imagination; if it’s dark, it’s possible.

Duels: Duels in SAO are usually initiated when both sides consent to the fight. Duels end once one side yields, or if one side falls to 1 HP. Given that both sides must consent to fight, if a player is asleep, the opponent may drag the opponent’s finger to accept. Asuna offered to treat Kirito to one free meal since he watched over her body whilst she was asleep; since he guarded her body when he didn’t, it’s an obligatory thanks.

Solo Players/Guilds: Solo players are relatively rare; it’s much more dangerous to play the game solo than it is with a guild. With a guild, you have numerous members in your party; this allows you to alternate aggro among the members of your party [while your heal over time potion takes effect]. Even more so, there’s a stigma that most solo players are antisocial, or bandits; Kirito is a solo player. He’s not a solo player because of the listed reasons, but more so due to this past [his last guild]. He prefers to be a solo players, there’s a multitude of benefits, such as the needlessness in sharing loot. Asuna on the other hand, is in a guild, the Knights of the Blood. The KotB is arguably the top guild in the game, she’s second-in-command of it; given this, she’s incredibly strong. The strongest guilds are on the front lines, in other words, they’re clearers; they explore uncharted soil; they’re the core force in clearing the game. They risk their lives to clear the game, they defeat powerful bosses, in a sense, they’re heroes; given this, Asuna is a famous idol for many players; she’s one of the few female players, she’s attractive, and she’s second-in-command for the top guild.

Inns: As I said in a previous entry, most inns are identical in layout; they only vary in food served [which plays as a factor in deciding residence]. Kirito and Asuna placed Yoruko in an inn room and asked her to stay there for her safety. As we know, only friends may enter inn rooms; there’s a window, but it offers the same protection as the door does [more defense]. In a sense, it’s like a forcefield against attackers. Their mindset considered the inn as the safest place against outside forces, and they were right in that regard; but in this case, an unexpected variable occurred.

Guilty Thorn: The name of the first murder weapon was called Guilty Thorn. It’s made from a relatively rare material, so it would be expensive to make; but, it pales in comparison to the weapons of Kirito and Asuna [frontline weapons]. But it possesses an unique attribute: Continuous Pierce Damage. Continuous Pierce Damage wasn’t quite touched on in the adaptation; it’s extremely weak against monsters, it’s effective on players. In a way, it’s a weapon tailored for PvP.

Ring: The motives of the members of Golden Apple were portrayed as relatively ambiguous. Those that wanted to sell the ring were in favor of it because they wanted to split the money, to promote an equal growth of wealth and power [this includes the guild leader and her husband]. Kains, Yoruko, and Schmitt wanted to sell the ring. Kains and Schmitt wanted to become frontline warriors, so they wanted to use it for themselves; Yoruko voted “yes” because she was dating Kains. The ring offered +20 agility; it’s not a trivial matter, since stats are rarely given through items; agility increases both attack speed and movement speed.

Names: In SAO, a person’s name is not passively displayed [nor is their level], only their health. There are two primary ways to find out somebody’s name, through a duel invitation, or through a party invitation. Kirito learned Asuna’s name due to the latter. The former would be the simplest way to attain someone’s name [you only need to challenge, they do not need to accept], but it’s considered poor etiquette.

Characters


Kirito-Asuna Interaction: Aria was a quintessential chapter in developing the two. The novel did a great job, while the adaptation was somewhat lacking. I’ll try to summarize their relationship. At the current moment, Kirito and Asuna are just friends. Their relationship is going to proliferate and accelerate at an astounding pace; Aria and similar chapters were essential cogs in making it flow [without it being seen as rushed]. In the Murder Mystery Case, Kirito and Asuna did plenty of experimenting [Kirito only mentioned his theories in the adaptation, it never showed them actually doing it]. Although their experimenting doesn’t provide “important” characterization, it’s the small interactions that ultimately galvanize the big picture [the adaptation is skimming over a lot of the slice of life scenes. The interaction between the two, are ironically, and arguably the most memorable/enjoyable parts of the light novel].

Anyways, onto the big picture. Kirito’s antithetical to Asuna, and vice versa. Asuna was a star pupil in the real world; she was the daughter of a CEO; she spent her entire life living up to the expectations of her father, and those around her. She had the best grades, and she had the looks; in a way, she lived her life to please those around her; she wasn’t quite independent. When she first came into SAO [it was her first MMORPG, her brother actually got the game, she stumbled upon it because he had a business trip], she was scared; she stayed in the starting city, and cried by herself in her inn room; she lost all hope, her motto in a way was, “delaying death.” But she had an epiphanous resolution; she left town and began to level at an astounding pace. She didn’t care for the comforts of life, but rather, she focused on leveling up as fast as she can, she camped out and slept in the field, brought multiple weapons with her, and worked herself to the extreme [Kirito met Asuna on the field in Aria, their meeting was skewed in the adaptation]. When Kirito gave Asuna the delicious bread during the Aria adaptation, it was meant to be a bit more symbolic than the superficial “shit’s delicious”; it was her first step in actually enjoying life in SAO.

Kirito on the other hand is considered to be an average gamer. He used to practice kendo at the insistence of his grandfather, but he quit soon afterwards. His sister, Suguha picked up the sport around the same time that he did, she genuinely learned to love the sport, but Kirito doesn’t know that, he’s under the assumption that Suguha took up Kendo for his sake [as shown in the last episode]. He’s haunted by numerous demons, the guilt of being a beater, guilt of allowing his guild members to die and the guilt of letting his sister take up kendo for his sake are the most obvious ones. His interactions with Asuna are not one-sided; in the simplest terms, it’s cathartic. Kirito begins to recover from the guilt that he bottled up with the aid of Asuna, and Asuna begins to actually enjoy the very sensation of living. That sounds cheesy as fuck, but summarizing shit without making it sound cheesy is impossible. Kirito and Asuna are seinen characters in a shounen storyline.

Egil: Egil was actually portrayed in a jocular manner; I didn’t expect it. After Asuna and Kirito talked to him, they left to check on a certain spectacle in the Starting City; he was invited, but he didn’t go. Not due to his being busy, or him being afraid, but because of his morals. He wouldn’t be able to control himself when confronted with a player who constructed a weapon designed for killing. He serves as a loyal friend to both Asuna and Kirito.

Heathcliff: The guild leader of the Knights of the Blood. I won’t extend on his character to much besides the basics; I’ll assume that the adaptation has something planned for this character. He’s extremely knowledgeable in game mechanics [as he should, as the guild leader of the top guild]. Kirito and Asuna sought his aid in developing their theories for how the murder was committed, he gave the advice of not trusting everything that their senses perceive [there could be liars].

Concluding Thoughts

The next episode will decide whether this was a decent adaptation, or a mediocre one. I personally consider Aria to be the most important chapter for characterization, but the murder mystery does deserve the two episodes.

I think I covered mostly everything that the light novel did cover, if I’m missing anything, let me know, I’ll make subsequent edits. I’ll omit the episodic score since it isn’t completed yet, they omitted a few quintessential developments, but I’m assuming it’s to be revealed during the next episode, when the culprit is revealed.

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21 Responses to Sword Art Online: Murder Mystery Part 1

  1. FlameStrike says:

    So far so good. The set up is fine, lets hope the conclusion will also be done well!

  2. John Smith says:

    I thought the adaption was solid, like you noted the Sicilia SS was very short thus it was much easier to adapt than a Aria SS or this Murder Case SS, so all things considering (two episodes) i think this first half was solid, since using three episodes would be two much and i can’t see them doing it any better with two episodes, the experiments were subbed out by mixing it in with the Egil visit instead of going out of town to do it like in the novel.

    As for interactions i agree completely with your summary of their personalities and where they stand as of now, since right now they are friends and only friends, i kind of wish they showed more of Asuna being Tsundere but that is just nitpicking as a fan of those scenes in the novels, what i do hope though is that they cross that “line” well because otherwise Lisbeths SS will be ruined. If they fail to do the transition well then then Asuna will appear shallow. In any case the other thing i wanted to mention was the Mechanics, it is absolutely impossibly to give detail to this like the novel, even mentioning every mechanic much less explaining them would be difficult.

    The Cuts were noticeable, like them skipping over the Schmitt interactions (which i thought was a good thing since it wasn’t a priority), the experimentation (they were mixed in like i said before), and other mechanics, so i guess my question is as a LN reader what do you think they could have done better outside of mechanics? the characterization can never be fully covered and that said i dnt think its as bad as Aria, its just a guess but i believe they will put focus onto it when they reach the main story since now they are focusing on the PK elements which if they ever want to animate GGO (as a second season or something) they will need to animate PK guilds appropriately like they were hinted in last episode.

    • mdz says:

      Not that much other than the mechanics and characterization; they excel in telling the primary storyline relatively well, it’s just the small idiosyncratic interactions, the slice of life scenes, Asuna being tsun and Kirito being playful, the reminiscent bickering between the two that I really wish was adapted.

      Yeah, PK elements do need to be developed, Most of the developments in the novel are given through narration; the same can’t be given for an anime adaptation, so it’s a bit difficult.

  3. Edlar says:

    I think what the writers were attempting this episode really explains why Aria was cut up so much. The anime writers are still writing Asuna as a tsundere type love interest that we see in the Clearers manga story and the Murder Case versus the more fleshed out version that Kawahara later develops in Aria and Rondo who isn’t really tsundere. Kinda justifiable for the anime since tsundere is more digestible for their audience and easier to write for the episode writer (his writing credits are basically SAO and all of Bakemonogatari).

    As for the actual mechanics of the game, I think most of it isn’t really relevant to the core of this story, which is really about the relationship in the game and also intros Heathcliff and the Laughing Coffin guys.

    • mdz says:

      Like I said, Asuna and Kirito aren’t halfassed characters; they’re seinen characters [loosely using the term “seinen”] in a shounen anime. They’re a bit too complex to be halfassedly developed. It’s much easier to take the tsundere route, and Asuna in some cases, is a tsundere.

      And yes, the mechanics aren’t essential to the storyline. But when the author tries so heavily to integrate it within every action, every development [even during a particular sensual scene], it should be given a better focus. Heathcliff and the Laughing Coffin should be developed in the next episode; the latter for sure, and the former may make another appearance in a different episode. But the mechanics of SAO are not to be belittled or shrugged off, Kawahara attempts to emulate an actual MMORPG, both in player psychology and in actual game mechanics; he excels in creating that, it immerses the audience, but the anime is only giving a halfassed rendition of it.

  4. Slywolf says:

    I’m disappointed. They left out many of Asuna’s and Kirito’s interactions, like eating salad in the restaurant, talking with Healthcliff and experimenting the DoT outside the area.

    These scenes are pretty much what I enjoyed in the SS because it shows their chemistry. This actually sets up the close relationship they will later have.

    Hopefully later episodes would be better.

    • mdz says:

      Aria and the numerous side stories serve to develop their relationship [Volume 1 of SAO was a bit brusque]. I really enjoyed the slice of life scenes, let’s hope they keep in the “explanation” of the marriage system in the next episode, considering that it is quintessential.

    • John Smith says:

      You should get your head out of the clouds and back in reality, just because you enjoy certain scenes doesn’t mean they will animate them, i heard some people just like you complaining that they didn’t animate the bath scene in Aria….honestly its like you can’t understand the simple fact that not everything can be animated, why don’t you look at other novel adaptions which turned into anime so your expectations can be more realistic.

      • John Smith says:

        O just to clarify this is pointed at Slywolf not mdz, also to add one final note this time pointed at mdz, they will clarify the marriage system, that is a given considering the later developments, i can’t see them leaving it out since it also connects to the mystery as well.

      • mdz says:

        That’s a silly statement, I’m not bitching about them not animating fan service, I’m bitching that they’re skipping out on the quintessential character development. SAO has a ridiculously fast romance; shit needs to flow; shit doesn’t flow if shit is skipped. Them investigating was quintessential to the mystery genre itself, the mechanics are integral to how the game functions, and the character interactions are pretty fucking important [I’ve already reiterated this a few times, check the entries, or question it].

        I don’t mind if they skip the petty stuff. The bath scene was comedy and fan service, I don’t mind them skipping that. But this chapter and Aria are important episodes for their romance; they already fucked up Aria, I’m hoping that they don’t fuck up this one too.

        I don’t expect them to animate it perfectly. There’s a reason that this blog exists. I’m going over everything that the adaptation missed. Every episode would blow if I focused on the trivialities of the adaptation. I focus on mechanics and their interaction because they’re significant, nothing more.

      • mdz says:

        Well, this theme has a relatively unique message system then. But he did have a fair point, those are relatively important developments [not specifically their “salad date” but more so their general interactions, which are, mostly skipped over].

  5. Serious says:

    “He used to practice kendo at the insistence of his grandfather, but he quit after, which resulted in his sister taking it up [as shown in the last episode]. He’s haunted by numerous demons, the guilt of being a beater, guilt of allowing his guild members to die and the guilt of letting his sister take up kendo for his sake are the most obvious ones.”

    This is wrong. Suguha started kendo at the same time as her brother. Kirito eventually gave up on it after a couple of years, but Suguha had a genuine affinity for kendo and stuck with it because she actually enjoyed it.

  6. worms garrett says:

    They should’ve adapted Aria into two episodes and skipped Red Nosed Reindeer. :|

    Oh well, at least we’re getting SOME character development instead of just a 2 year skip… I guess.

    • mdz says:

      I agree with splitting Aria into two episodes, but skipping Sachi’s character wouldn’t have turned out too well.

      • John Smith says:

        Skipping Red Nose Reindeer would have been horrible, if anything they could have skipped this murder case and use the two episodes to extend Aria and perhaps Red Nose Reindeer, since i believe the development of Kiritos Guilt exceeds the importance of PK, that said tho i really enjoyed GGO so if they are ever going to animate it this SS was needed, its a shame but it appears everything goes back to the fact that they are mixing the season with ALO thus making the amount of room for adaption of SAO much shorter

  7. mdz says:

    Eh the murder case is just as important as the red nosed reindeer [in all honesty, RNR was fine with the exception of Sachi’s development, seemed a bit awkward, and reminiscent of a romance]; Aria’s the one that should have been given a more faithful adaptation.

  8. Anonymous says:

    LOL @ Things get cut out = rushed

  9. Pingback: Sword Art Online: Murder Mystery and Oversimplification | MDZ's Anime Blog

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