Sword Art Online: Alfheim Online and Alarts


Alart! Alart! ALO has begun.

Equivocal hand placement.


Jokes aside, it’s a bit shocking for them to get “Alert” right every other time but this time. I’m not sure whether it’s a result of HorribleSubs’ typesetting, or the production studio’s. Anyways, let’s continue on with the review.

Mechanics


Ministry of Internal Affairs: As we know, after Kirito was released from SAO, he was briefed and “interrogated” from members of this organization [he learned a few things in exchange for intel]. Among the things that he learned were the real names and addresses of numerous players, among those include: Cline [Friend from launch ->], Nishida [Fishing Episode], Scilica [Beast Tamer], and Lizbet [Blacksmith], and of course, Egil [Storeowner]. After SAO, names were seldom disclosed; for example, Kirito’s nickname is a rendition of his actual name KIRIgaya KazuTO; not a lot of people know this fact, not even his family. The reason? SAO was a game of animosity between numerous factions, players — murders were pinned on one another, discourse often transcended into bloody conflict; names were seldom disclosed to protect the players. For example, Laughing Coffin was an infamous PvP guild; in a normal MMORPG, it would be the norm, in SAO, it would be considered blasphemy. If publications were done, then numerous lawsuits would ensue. Kayaba served as the poster boy for the hate directed towards SAO — his location is still unknown. After SAO, numerous relatives of the players entrapped or killed in SAO sued Argus, the developer of the game — this resulted in Argus going bankrupt, and Asuna’s father, the CEO of the RECTO [the company that bought Argus] inheriting the system and its details. Asuna’s father does not hate her daughter — he’s viewing this objectively, he doesn’t know of Sugou’s actual character, and he’s under the impression that her daughter doesn’t mind him; it’s a win/win in his eyes; his daughter marries into affluence, and he grows that much closer to the possible successor of his company, RECTO.

«AmuSphere»: The next generation of FullDive technology [successor to the NERvGear]. After the incident, the NERvGear was essentially titled as “a devil’s machine” — to ameliorate this concern, it took around half a year and a new company image [along with galvanized security] for FullDive technology to be manufactured and sold. As far as I remember, there has not been a lot of significant changes in programming — it’s what allows Kirito to hold some of his former information. The primary “drive” in releasing the «AmuSphere» was probably more security-driven, than it was technology-driven.

Alfheim Online: As we know, this will be the primary setting for this arc — after the SAO arc, I’m sure that the author had “difficulty” with continuing the story [SAO was initially released as a net novel; as we know, the ending was written extremely ambiguously, SAO could have stopped right there — in the light novel, Kirito aspired for hope in finding Asuna — the author did not blatantly indicate that Asuna was still stuck in the game when SAO ended, but he didn’t unequivocally indicate that she was out either]. It’s not exactly pragmatic to coerce another death game, and it’s not exactly “fun” if nothing’s at stake [a death game accentuated verisimilitude in SAO, ALO needed something for it to be taken “seriously”]. Given this, the author had to have taken a pragmatic approach that wasn’t repetitive, yet logical enough to work — I don’t quite agree with his using of an absolute evil [i.e Koubou — Kayaba had a goal, he had a pragmatic approach to things, Koubou simply abuses his position and his power]. Anyways, ALO is heavily more PvP than it is PvE; this in and of itself makes it a more realistic game.

Realistic Allusions: Probably not exactly a mechanic more than it is the author’s writing style. But I really do appreciate the author’s penchant to actually include gaming culture. As we saw in SAO, there was an onset of competitive Darwinism among players on launch day — that’s typically common in new MMORPGs. But in addition to that, he also had the inclusion of a community site for SAO [as seen with Sinker & Yuriel]. On the opposing spectrum, players in ALO attempted to exploit the system by flying to the top of the world tree without the coveted permafly. The comedic synergy of players aspiring to “cheat” the system is humorous, considering how it parallels with numerous games of the genre [in that players really are lazy].

Faction PvP: Since ALO is a PvP MMORPG, there’s bound to be conflict — there’s polychotomies of a generic race into races; there isn’t a set animosity between races [as numerous MMORPGs have, i.e: in WoW, humans are hostile to orcs]. In ALO, players actually run the factions; there are elections, and there are ambassadors, it’s the aspect of ALO that I really liked — in most MMORPGs, there’s a typical rigidness in relation to scenarios like this, but in ALO, players run everything. The most eminent racial conflict would be between the Sylphs and the Salamanders. Each race does have their own idiosyncratic boosts — for example, Salamanders are better mages, while Sylphs are more agile. The strategies of each race is indicative to their advantages, and to their leaders’ preferences. It’s literally role-playing with a game; in ALO, there aren’t levels, the system is more reliant on the wielder’s actual physical prowess than it is of their game-related levels [thus, obesity was solved].

Flight: Aside from the permaflight in ALO, the two primary flights are “Voluntary flight” and “secondary flight”. Lyfa, the primary heroine of this arc uses the former, which allows her to navigate much more fluidly, and in turn, gives her an edge in combat. Most players, like the Salamanders that she faces [with the exception of the squadron leader] uses secondary flight, which is simpler to use, but much more rigid and “weaker.”

System Bug: In SAO, Kirito was a leet hacker. I didn’t love that development, but it did develop towards two reveals: one, Yui’s existence being saved to his NERvGear, which allows her to accompany him during ALO; the second, it kinda foreshadowed some system errors. Given that ALO is extremely similar to SAO in build, it’s not exactly impractical for things that worked in SAO to transcend over into ALO. In SAO, Yui’s existence was being marked by destruction by the Cardinal system, the backbone of SAO. But since this is ALO, Cardinal doesn’t function to same extents as it did in SAO; this allows a logical introduction of Yui into ALO. In addition, we know that Kirito’s data is saved internally on the NERvGear; in relation to most of the players in ALO, he’s an anomaly; not only was the NERvGear a limited release, it’s essentially expected to have been superseded by the AmuSphere. Given this, it’s not impractical to assume that the developers for ALO overlooked the existences of anomalies like Kirito. Yui’s parallel in ALO would be a navigation pixie.

Character Interactions


Egil: His real name is Andrew Gilbert Mills; he ran a store in SAO, and he runs one in real life. His store’s located in Taito Okachimachi and it’s titled «Dicey Café». Although he’s African-American, his parents took a liking to Japan, and he opened his bar there. He’s married with a wife — she was originally a customer. When Egil was released from the game, he assumed for his shop to have been closed down [given his two-year absence]; but, his wife took over while he was gone and saved it from an inevitable collapse.

Suguha-Kirito interaction: As we know, they’re not heavily-related enough for romance to be considered incest. They’re cousins; in Japan, cousins eloping is not exactly taboo, nor is it extremely rare. Suguha looked up to her brother as a child, and Kirito loved her sister too [I’m not sure if ALO’ll adapt the small side stories from when they were kids, but it would be difficult considering their anomalous positions and the needed anachronism to adapt them.] We’ll begin to see Suguha fall for her brother; as much as I don’t mind the romance, and as much as I do think that she’s a great character, the romance isn’t going to blossom, nor is it going to bloom. This is a bit of a spoiler, but it’s fairly obvious from the structuring of SAO — Asuna will always be the primary romance, even if she’s not entirely present. I compared her to Senjougahara for that very reason — not entirely in situation, but more so in frequency of appearance; Asuna will not be heavily-central in ALO; SAO was her arc, ALO is Suguha’s arc, and GGO is Sinon’s arc. Kirito will always be “travelling” with another character, but he will always come home to Asuna. I do suggest reading the light novel to specifically understand the extents of Suguha’s character — most of her development is given through narration; she’s not a generic sister-type character. That’s recurrent in SAO — each character, regardless of being generic is important to the story. Take for example Scilica, she’s the generic sister-type character; we can’t really argue for her depth or for her complexity. But we can argue for her integral role in serving as the catalyst for Kirito to actually realize his treatment towards his sister [after he found out that he was adopted]. The same could be said for Sachi — she’s not extremely trite, but her primary role is to serve as a haunting remainder to Kirito — he was weak once [which resulted in her death], but he promised himself, and Asuna, that he will no longer be [hence his hating of himself for crying, for feeling so powerless in not being able to help her].

Concluding Thoughts


So, I typically start my reviews ~an hour before SAO airs in the US [SAO airs around 12 PM PDT, I start at ~11 PM PDT]. I typically do this to ensure quality and speed; I like having the entry out immediately after the launch; this allows more people to actually learn about the information. Needless to say, this one actually took ~55 minutes to do, which is rare, considering I like to have a little bit of a free-time in between sessions of watching & writing. Nevertheless, it’s reasonable, considering most of this entry is related to mechanics, and I do try to get most of my information correct. I really have no idea how long an episode typically covers, for this episode, I’m assuming ~48 pages. I stop writing at reasonable stopping points. I really do wish for more character interaction though; it’s much more simple to reiterate cumulative developments [like character interactions] than it is to specify particular idiosyncrasies of the chapter [e.g: key facts, specific information, etc]. Needless to say, my episodic entries are riddled with grammatical errors, the only thing that informs me of a grammar error would be through WordPress’s mediocre alerts. I’d be lying if I said that I proofreaded everything that I did write [episodic entries at least].


Prior Entries

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3 Responses to Sword Art Online: Alfheim Online and Alarts

  1. edo says:

    do you think Lyfa’s character design in alo was random Like kirito..?

  2. Pingback: First Impressions: Sword Art Online | MDZ's Anime Blog

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