October 28, 2012

Sword Art Online Continues (eps 16 & 17)

Hey. Are you a wildly unlikely coincidence? Guess what? I am too!"

After the low key but interesting episode that was 15 the show hits the ground running.

 Kazuto runs to meet Agil who runs a coffee shop in Tokyo. Agil informs him that the picture of Asuna was a screen cap from the 'great tower' of Alfheim Online, a game that premiered about a year prior. Alfheim Online is an immerseive VRMMORPG much like Sword Art Online but with an interface that can't kill the player, and a logout function. The game is set in a world populated by faries and so the players can all fly. Nevertheless, while it is touted as being utterly different than SAO Agil reveals to him that it seems to be running on the same engine and can even be accessed via the same headgear. Not only that it has a similar structure. There is a huge tower to be cleared level by level with promises of great rewards at the top. While players can fly they can only do so for 10 minutes or so which means that one can't simply fly to the top of the tower. No one has been able to even enter the tower so some enterprising players raped the mechanics by taking super strength potions standing on top of one another and taking off like a multistage rocket engaging their limited flight capability as the person below them timed out. In this way one player got a picture of the top of the tower which has a garden...with a giant birdcage containing what appears to be a princess (that is of course the source of the Asuna pic).

He gets a copy of the game from Sigil, but being unable to afford the VR access gear Kazuto rashly runs home and dives into the game using his old Sword art Online headset. and things get...odd.

These two episodes are a mixed bag.

This isn't so much an action-adventure yarn anymore as it is a melodrama. That isn't necessarily a deal breaker, but the story is being moved along by a confluence of improbable coincidences which is annoying. 

Additionally, the huge level advantage our hero has and the cooperation of the renegade personal pixy (who considers him her daddy and is perfectly willing to cheat) makes him sort of a 'Larry Sue'. The first half of the series had one of the more interesting and mature relationships I'd seen. This arc is looking to be NEET wish fulfillment with a hero having untouchable skills, and an nonthreatening love interest in need of rescue.  Having Asuna stripped of her levels and basically being a damsel in distress is disappointing to say the least.

However, there is still a good bit of potential here and the show has surprised me before.  Asuna may be stripped of her power but she still retains her strong character. The show has some very interesting (and scary) ideas.  The hero's determination to save the woman he loves is a perfectly laudable motivation.  Improbable koinkidinks aside,  it's still a decent, even above average show. 

I'm going to keep watching.

Ubu Roi has some additional thoughts on the show, and makes some very good points.

Suffice to say, a worthy master villain should be credible, intimidating, ambitious, comprehensible, and generally behave like they’re serious about achieving their ambitions. SAO’s master bad guy has spent barely 20 minutes on screen, but he’s utterly nailed every one of them. A nice touch demonstrating his sense of superiority was to type the password to the cell in her full view…pixellated by the server.

I control everything you see, hear, taste…and feel.

Actual words were superfluous.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 04:56 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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1 From what I've read, the story told in these books definitely suffers from "good grief, what do I do now?", and as much as the first story needed to be fleshed out for the anime, the second needs to be trimmed back. I'm willing to trust the animation team for a while, because they succeeded in making me care about both main characters in the first half.

No matter how they end this season, though, I hope they stop there, because apart from some side stories that might make nice specials, it looks like the rest of the main novels are Kirito solo adventures, with Asuna and other friends left behind in the real world.


Posted by: J Greely at Sun Oct 28 21:09:34 2012 (2XtN5)

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