Do any of you old timers remember watching Ninja Scrolls on VHS? That was my first taste of anime way back in the day. I am not a hardcore anime guy but I’ve watched my fair share of them including movies such as Akira and Ghost in the Shell. Episodic series including: Naruto, Bleach and Deathnote. Yes that’s right I watch anime and I am man enough to admit it! A new one that caught my eye recently is Sword Art Online (SOA). Why is this even on GamerVets? Because, it’s based around gaming, that’s why! Specifically a MMORPG backdrop similar to World of Warcraft. Note that I watched the Japanese language with English Subtitles version.
The basic plot surrounds a brand new Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG) called Sword Art Online (SAO). Equipped with a helmet called the “Nerve Gear”, players can experience all aspects of the game virtually and control their characters with their minds.
On the first day that it’s released to the public, 10000 players are able to log in for the first time however, soon discover that there is no ability to log out. The game’s creator Kayaba Akihiko tells them that to logout and escape the game, they must reach the 100th floor game’s tower and defeat the final boss. Each floor also has it’s own boss. However, if they die in the game, they also die in the real world due to who the brainwaves are connected to the Nerve Gear helmet. AKA no respawning abilities! As you can imagine, many noob, weak players are killed off quickly while other stronger players are determined to beat the game and escape to return to the real world.
The main character is Kirito who was not only a beta tester, was the best beta tester who achieved the highest rank during the the test period. This gave him an immediate advantage as to strategies on leveling up XP, finding the best weapons and equipment. He soon meets up with a strong female player named Asuna and they “party up” in hopes of escaping SOA. The 25 episodes (approximately 22 minutes each) revolve around their relationship and they and the rest of the players must join together to reach the 100th floor and beat the final boss. I won’t give away much else but you can imagine how the virtual world soon takes a life on it’s own as they are trapped for over 2 years time and must make SOA their “home”.
I found the concept pretty cool and just like the video game version, you’ll soon see players act and do things virtually. That is, forming relationships, guilds, factions both good and bad. Like all online video games, there are “bad” players who kill other players and rob and steal from other players for loot and rare items. The best and worst happen in SOA just like every other online game I’ve seen. Another thing I found interesting too is that this game has no magic which I can appreciate because I usually never choose the character with magic for any of my classes. I usually tend to go with the fighter/warrior type class builds. SOA is similar as all the characters main weapons are swords (hence the name).
- Great action and video game based story
- Interesting seeing visually how strategies of leveling up your character, grinding for XP and working as a team vs high level bosses.
- Love the MMORPG video game story line and anyone who’s ever played a RPG type game will appreciate the nuances and gaming references.
- Interesting to see how the virtual world soon becomes the “real world” for the players including:
- interpersonal relationships
- forming of guilds or parties
- dynamics between players
- existence of “evil players” who are content to live in the virtual world and player kill and/or steal / horde valuable items.
- They could have focused more episodes on clearing various floors and defeating bosses. Some skipping of many floors occurred between episodes that I felt they could have expanded on as you have to make some assumptions on what happened between episodes in terms of character and story developments. I assume the manga is more in depth.
- The love story gets cheesy at times. It’s interesting though that players can get married in game and then they have the ability to share inventory. Not only does it tackle online relationships but also gives some strategic implications.
- The first half of the series is noticeably better than the second half.
- Some typical pervy type animation and camera angles of the female characters that is kind of weird to say the least (could be a Pro for some people)
The Old Guy in Me Says
If you are into anime then you have probably already watched this. If not, and are looking to get into one, I’d recommend Sword Art Online especially as a gamer. You’ll really appreciate the little details and gaming references that come up.
Just be careful if your wife or girlfriend isn’t used to seeing you watch anime as they might think it’s pretty weird for you to suddenly start watching this type if cartoon. Also, with some of the pervy visuals that pop up here and there (not that bad but could be taken the wrong way), it might open up a few doors you don’t want to deal with! I trust you Vets will know how to handle it though. Personally I really enjoyed it and look forward to Season 2.