First impression: Sword Art Online

Hey, this is familiar!

I was feeling a hole in my anime list for a while since it’s been a while since I last watched an anime whose premise a virtual reality massively multiplayer online role-playing game (VRMMORPG; quite the acronym). Based on its description on Crunchyroll, I thought it might be a bit like .hack, but without magic. That’s the impression I’m getting currently of what it is.

Basically, from the first couple episodes, I can tell that the “players” of this game, a game where only physical combat is possible to battle the mobs that spawn, are trapped in the game by the game’s creator (suspension of disbelief begins with how this person was allowed to trap them at all). The creator makes no secret of the fact that a death in-game will kill the real-life person attached to the in-game avatar. Also, any attempt to extract the person from the VR gear will also cause death.

At any rate, the beginning has players beginning to work together to achieve the explicit goal of the game, which also is their means of escape: to beat the game’s final boss, by first conquering all the levels (and their “floor” bosses).

Why this is interesting to a gamer

I can already see this show starting to deal with issues MMO gamers, maybe even gamers in general, have to deal with from other players in-game. Kirito, the protagonist, who played the game prior to release, was already a bit of a loner, and hesitant to reveal his status to many as a beta tester. Since the game is a life-or-death struggle, the envy and resentment players normally feel towards those granted early access (“cheater” is used in the second episode) is amplified to feeling that such players don’t and won’t care to help others survive. He’s already not wanting to be overly friendly (he tries), so that group fear of those more knowledgable or skilled (he is both) is going to be a major issue for him.

Sword art online kirito by kai yan
Kirito, by Kai-Yan – http://kai-yan.deviantart.com/

Hopefully, the friends he’s starting to make will help him progress (he didn’t make it to the end in the beta testing, so I’m sure there’s a reason for it). I’ll be watching this with great interest. I have a very limited number of Crunchyroll all-access guest passes if anybody wants to check this out. All-access means you see new episodes on release day (in HD) without the hassle of using less-savory methods. Just send a direct message via whatever social network you spot this post on. I’ll keep a list if I run out since they’re periodically granted. Hopefully, this series turns out to be good. I’m content so far, however.

What do you think? Have you been watching so far? Read the light novel? The manga? Never heard of this. I want to know. Leave a comment, @reply or however you can respond.