By Jared Cyhowski / July 16th, 2012
Sword Art Online is an anime series currently airing in Japan. It’s an adaptation of a light novel series by the same name, taking a familiar concept and bringing it to life in a new light. I haven’t read the novels so I can’t compare their storylines, therefore my opinions are completely created from the television series.
*Some spoilers follow from the first episode.*
The overarching premise of Sword Art Online is 10,000 players have logged into a newly launched MMORPG via a “Nerve Gear” virtual reality headset. During this first day of launch the game’s creator, Akihiko Kayaba, removes everyone’s ability to log out. Every player is warned that if they die in SAO, they will die in real life. The Nerve Gear headset conveniently uses microwaves (or something) to connect your brain to the game, so if you try to remove the headset while connected you’ll die. The only way to save your life is to clear the game’s 100 floors, or levels, and then you’ll be able to log out.
The first episode introduces protagonist Kirito, a young man who was lucky enough to participate in SAO’s beta. This means he has an advantage over other players knowing basic quests and enemy tactics. Because of this knowledge he must be careful in revealing who he is. Although it’s a virtual world Kirito’s human instincts come into play, and he keeps his advantages to himself.
Sword Art Online uses MMO jargon in a fantasy setting, and some of the set-up has the potential to be cliché. In taking a further look the series does feel fresh because of its character designs and slowly developing story. It obviously reminds me of .hack, but SAO already has a more interesting concept. There is potential for SAO to be more than just a typical shounen fantasy title, but not knowing the source material makes me feel a bit limited in my prediction. Nevertheless, Sword Art Online is entertaining and seems to be going somewhere with its plot.
Sword Art Online airs every Saturday on Crunchyroll.
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