Thus, the rage begins.
Surprisingly, this episode was actually adapted very well. They added a few nuances and adapted a few scenes anachronically which made the transition between seasons that much more smoother — they also established a certain mood, and captured Kirito’s state of mind fairly accurately. I’m impressed with the adaptation of the first episode.
This section will contain minor spoilers, so skip this if you’re against them [it’s arguably minor, it’s vague overviews — no specific references, just the gist of the arc]. Whelp, SAO ended and ALO begins. We’ll begin to see a branching out of interactions; SAO revolved around Kirito and Asuna, ALO is going to revolve around Kirito and another female. InfiniteDestiny probably gave the best analogy: Kirito is to Araragi as Asuna is to Senjougahara. Her presence is going to be attenuated, but their romance will never be compromised. Personally, I don’t mind that [it makes the romantic, honeymoon episodes of SAO all the more sentimental]. Onto the controversial aspects of ALO: there is going to be a lot of rage. Rage directed towards one individual. One asinine, decadent, individual. I’m sure you’ll be able to ascertain who this person is by the end of the first episode. This individual will play as the primary antagonist, but contrary to Heathcliff/Kayaba, he’s a god damn idiot. It’s a matter of pure potency versus intelligent strategy; Heathcliff went for strategy, this guy went for an unabashed exercise as power. The only solace is regardless of what he does do to Asuna, it’ll never transcend to rape [really was looking for an euphemism, but I couldn’t without sounding eight; personally, this is probably the most specific spoiler here, but it’s a spoiler I’m sure most of the viewers will appreciate — there’s an influx of trolls speaking ambiguously about the topic; it doesn’t happen, it’s just heavily insinuated to occur (think of Shiki’s situation in Kara no Kyoukai’s seventh movie). There’s also the matter of Asuna; in the SAO arc, she was painted to be a strong heroine. In ALO, she’s essentially the damsel in distress; it’s not incredibly irritating, it’s just the developments that this specific attribute of her brings [see previous]. But ALO is hardly just a medium for rage. SAO excelled in developing a sentimental romance between the pair, ALO excels in applying logical mechanics with a more pragmatic game. SAO [the game] was probably enjoyable, but its primary selling point was its use of virtual reality — it’s relatively linear in progression, the most rudimentary type [Progressing from one floor to the next]. ALO will craft a more realistic type of game with more recurrent mechanics [SAO did very well with its incessant developing of the mechanics, but its core wasn’t very creative]. In ALO, we’ll see a more logical take on “what an MMORPG should be like.” Anyways, let us begin with ALO; I doubt there’ll be a lot of mechanics this episode. ALO takes part two months after the end of SAO.
Suguha-Kirito: They grew up together as siblings. Kirito’s characterized as being a “super hacker” of sorts [he built his own computer out of spare parts when he was six, and he programmed it himself]; not my favorite development [partially because building a computer out of spare parts isn’t exactly difficult, and because programming your own operating system is a bit redundant], but it is a plot device and justification for a few past and future developments. Kirito and Suguha were incredibly close as kids, they did what every other sibling [in anime] did; they made silly promises, participated in fun activities, and a bunch of other cute stuff. When he was ten, Kirito found out that he was “adopted”; his real parents died in an accident when he was a kid, and he was raised by Midori, Suguha’s mother. After the accident, he presumably got that much more into video games, and grew distant from Suguha and the rest of the family [consider his mindset]. Suguha didn’t find out about their actual relationship until Kirito was stuck in SAO [she was to be told when she entered high school]; so, she lived under the assumption that he was her brother for that much more longer. We’ll see an obvious attraction from Suguha to Kirito, but do keep in mind, they’re not related by blood; they’re cousins. In Japan, cousins marrying is not “taboo.”
Suguha, who was still carrying a great number of conflicting emotions, frequently visited this hospital room, which Kazuto was admitted to, and continued thinking earnestly. The matter of her brother not being her real brother, and what was lost. Before long, she came up with an answer that it was nothing. That nothing would change. There would not be a single thing hurt. As before she knew the truth and after she knew, she, as always, had only been praying for Kazuto’s well-being and his return.
The “linchpin” that held the two together was kendo. Their grandfather was a famous kendo practitioner — he initially intended for his son, Suguha’s father, to succeed him, but, her father took the pragmatic route and found employment at a foreign financial securities company. Given this, their grandfather trained them; Kirito was influenced more by Midori, an editor for a computer systems magazine, than he was by his grandfather, and as a result, he left the dojo within two years. Suguha stayed and eventually found an affinity to kendo.
Kirito: His character development is a bit more subtle. We do have to keep in mind that prior to entering Sword Art Online, he was the individualistic type [ergo a loner]. In SAO, his relationship with Asuna was incredibly important; I described them as having a symbiotic relationship, and that symbiosis continues. In SAO, Kirito developed numerous core values that we’ll see exhibited in ALO. Even his basic interactions with Suguha is something to be awed; compare the reclusive older brother who doesn’t care to talk with his younger sister, and the now, more talkative brother [Like I said, the character arcs (Lizbet, Sachi, and Scilica) in SAO weren’t mediums for unabashed fan service, or filler episodes — each encounter crafted a certain aspect of Kirito, we see Scilica’s influence at work here].
Suguha: The sister character that isn’t given the generic sister treatment. We’ll see her emerge as more complex character. I’ll take the lazy route and allow the quotes to characterize her.
As I thought… I just don’t resemble… my Onii-chan… It was a thought that often filled her mind in recent days. She thought of this every time she saw her own face at the bathroom’s entrance. It wasn’t that she disliked her appearance; she didn’t care that much to begin with. But ever since her brother Kazuto returned to this house, her mind had began to subconsciously make comparisons.
Ever since her childhood, Suguha and her brother shared a relationship that was as close as best friends. But as her brother left her for a whole different world, Suguha buried her loneliness by devoting herself wholeheartedly to kendo. The distance between them continued to expand, and their daily conversations continued to drop; before Suguha had realized it, their relationship had fallen to a merely normal one. But truth be told, Suguha constantly felt lonely. She wanted to talk to her brother more. She wanted to understand her brother’s world, wanted her brother to come and watch her competitions. However, just when she was about to express these feelings, that incident happened.