First Impressions – Sword Art Online

So fun you won’t want to log out! Nor will you be able to!

Wooooooo! Hooooooo! Finally Sword Art Online has officially arrived and yeah as you can tell I am a bit excited for this series because I consider myself to be a huge fan of MMOs and of course video games in general. So can this series move past just being called a simple .hack\\SIGN clone? I have high hopes for it to do so! Anyway it is time to join Overcooled for our epic first impressions on Sword Art online episode one.
Like Fosh, I’m no stranger to playing MMOs for hours on end with my buddies. I’ve cut down on them recently, but I still have a special place for them in my heart. It’s no wonder that SAO had me hooked when I heard it took place in a game world. It combines my two dorky loves – anime and video games – into one beautiful, final product! That means I kill two birds with one stone, and you all know how fond I am of killing things (I’m pretty sure that’s what it means).

Overcooled // I’ve been very careful to only check out shows that I really feel like I will enjoy this season because of my tight schedule (I won’t bother rattling my various real life duties off my to-do list) and SAO’s successful first episode makes me feel pretty damn good about my choices. This was a great start to the series that managed to fit in a lot of world-building, without tons of clunky jargon being thrown around. Accel World had no idea how to aptly explain the Burst Linker universe in a few minutes. SAO simply shows it, and thus avoids having 20 minutes dedicated to reading a game manual. Little things like seeing how players activate menus and view HP bars, touching force fields, and seeing monsters respawn tell us a lot about the world already. Of course, we do get a mini tutorial about how to fight and the technical aspects of the NerveGear system, but I found all of that to be really interesting. If we actually did develop an immersive MMO like this using a virtual reality helmet…it’d probably be exactly like this. Well, minus the part about microwaves frying our brains like eggs, I would hope.

Lesson 1: stick ’em with the pointy end

Even if you’re not a gamer who gets a kick out of the video game setting, there’s still a lot for SAO to offer. For one thing – it’s gorgeous. It’s easy to forget this is a game, and just assume it’s a fantasy land brought to us courtesy of a huge animation budget. We got a small taste of action this week, and it’s equally well done. If A-1 keeps it up, then SAO could easily be one of the best-looking anime this season. Even killing a single-digit level wolf was exciting! Can you imagine when they have to start fighting bosses to progress? These battles have huge stakes, and should be pretty riveting to behold if done right.

I hope SAO isn’t shy about killing people off to make a point about how deadly this game is. I would love to see some characters die (and not offscreen! none of this implied death nonsense!) and observe how it affects morale. Another reason why I’m so hyped for this show is to see how frenzied people get when their lives are put on the line like this. I drink tears like wine, my friends, and I’m ready to get drunk off of Kirito’s sorrow. Kirito seems like a fairly average character, but there is a slight fragility to him. At first I had him pegged as the calm type who speaks frankly and tends to excel at everything, but there’s a little bit of vulnerability there too. Despite seeming aloof, he’s actually a bit sensitive and probably a deep thinker, which should give us some interesting inner thoughts on this 100 level massacre. He’s not TOO sensitive though. He’ll certainly be affected by what’s going on, but he’s tough enough to not be a whiner about it like a certain .hack//SIGN main character.

Intense battles that your very existence hinges on….at level 1

Now, before I hand things over to Fosh…I want to go on a sliiiightly major tangent about the NerveGear and the future state of video games. You see, I would LOVE a virtual reality game like SAO. Wouldn’t you? Again, ignore the fact that you can’t log out and are being forced to run through a gauntlet of bosses. Just ignore that. Wouldn’t it be nice if a NerveGear were really plausible? I think this system is a little more believable than the .hack one where you move around in the game, but can also move your real life body. The NerveGear keeps your body still, so you don’t accidentally jump off of a bridge in real life while controlling your in-game character. This…might be possible. As a Neuroscience student who loves what she’s studying and applies it to everything, I have a theory for how this thing works. Stay with me if you’re game for a (potentially completely off) SCIENCE RAMBLE.

Brain being bombarded by microwaves? Cancer totally isn’t an issue.

The NerveGear works by inhibiting the motor functions of the body while keeping the mind active. This is something that can happen naturally by reducing the level of hypocretin/orexin neurotransmitters. Being in the game would mimic a cataplectic attack, which is triggered in people with cataplexy by strong emotions (or any sort of pronounced cortical arousal). People with cataplexy have incredibly low amounts of orexin – which is the neurotransmitter that makes sure you don’t fall over and become paralyzed when you experience cortical arousal. It may seem like a dumb idea that your body has a natural system to halt voluntary control of your muscles when you’re aroused, but this is actually used to make you stop moving during REM sleep. REM sleep is when you dream, and as you can imagine from all the crazy dreams you had running away from robots in your underwear while riding a giant Justin Bieber, your mind is in a high state of cortical arousal during this time. You do not want to moving while you’re dreaming.

In summary, cataplexy is when you get excited, and this triggers muscle atonia (i.e. keeling over like a tipped cow). You are unable to move at all, but you are still fully conscious. This is a more severe form of narcolepsy, because you are still awake, but you can’t move. So, Kirito will still be able to control his avatar with his mind, but he won’t have to worry about his body walking off into oblivion in real life. As for someone’s mind being able to control something, fellow aniblogger Joojoobees actually linked me to a article about a man being able to control a robot’s movements using his thoughts with a fairly simple cap on. It was in a Phi Brain post that this was brought up, so…yes…I do this sort of thing even for anime like Phi Brain. I probably enjoyed writing this more than you guys did reading it, but you’re not getting an apology from me! *backflips into the sunset*

———————————————————

Foshizzel // OH MY GOD! That was such a wonderful first episode because did you see the awesome artwork? Seriously Sword Art Online has some great looking background artwork! But honestly I think everyone already knew that A-1 Pictures were going to knock things out of the park in terms of great animation. They even brought in Shingo Adachi to do the lovely character designs from both seasons of Working, and Mirai Nikki but think I am really curious just to see how these somewhat moe-ish character designs work in terms of a fighting/action themed series! Who knows maybe we will all have our minds blown after we see some giant monster fights?

 

So what about that story huh? Akihoki Kayaba the original game creator of the game and creator of the Nerve Gear device removed the logout buttons from the game menu!? OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL DUDE? I guess he went mad with all that power or maybe he just wanted to become a god inside Sword Art Online? Either way that is some seriously messed up stuff to pull…NOT COOL BRO! NOT COOL AT ALL! So did anyone else burst out laughing when that “girl” in the pink outfit turned out to be a guy? Ahahahah that was so freaking hilarious! And it really is 100% true in the world of MMO gaming. After seeing that scene it made me wonder if the anime creators did their homework or maybe they have had similar experiences while playing games, but I think they can go through just about any online gaming message board and find all kinds of crazy stories to use for characters.

Besides the terror of being trapped in a video game world forever! There were a few random things that had my attention like the character Cline voiced by Hirata Hiroaki Which I always think of him as Tiger from Tiger and Bunny. Who knew that guy loved to play video games and running around as a super hero? I assume he will be one of the main characters in the story. We also haven’t met the main girl Asuna Yuuki yet! I can’t wait to see her fight and of course we have Keiko Ayano the token “loli-girl” because summer season is lacking those types of characters. So what did you enjoy about this first episode? The artwork? Interesting characters? I liked just about everything and I am really excited to see just how this series plays out because it has me addicted after one episode! SO BRING ON MORE SWORD ART ONLINE.

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We live, laugh, enjoy and strictly believe on "more the merrier". When together, we usually come up with very chatty, conversation-based episodics and interesting posts.
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67 Responses to “First Impressions – Sword Art Online”

  1. Liza says:

    I loved this first episode so much. It held the right amount of everything to keep me hooked plus the characters are very nice to look at. I wonder when the main girl will show up… Someone I think it might be the sister that Kirito mentioned due to that one scene in the OP at the house and she made him food…

    • D-LaN says:

      Nah, Kirito little sis won show up ’til the next arc.

    • Toori-chan says:

      Kirito’s little sis and Asuna are two different people.

      • Overcooled says:

        Ahh, I should have put this in the post. Please be careful not to spoil things for those of us who haven’t had the pleasure of reading the original source. I know this is minor, but just in case you’re tempted to reveal any more…

    • Foshizzel says:

      Yeah I am sure the main girl will arrive soon! I forget if this series is 13 episodes or 26? It certainly feels like a a epic 26 to me <3

      Yeah I heard stuff floating around about a “sister” but I ignored it xD

  2. Rakkyo says:

    *high-fives Fosh and OC*
    I remember the fun times when I was sinking my time and money into WoW and various other MMOs with my friends…

    SAO is definitely one of the best-looking shows this season and I’m excited to see some large-scale boss fights too.
    The first episode feels a bit slow to me though, and I don’t really think a 1-hit kill on a trash mob can be considered intense even though it looks so frickin’ cool XD
    Nevertheless, first episodes are usually exposition episodes and we should get proper battles next episode.

    • Overcooled says:

      *high fives back* You and me both. I’ve wasted away quite a few summers in front of my computer playing MMOs. “Sorry, can’t come out to play- it’s 2X EXP day” was a very common response to being forced to go outside.

      It was mostly world-building, but I like it. Just the right pace for me.

      This is why I’m hyped for more action. If they could make a OHKO against a stupid boar look that good, then a boss fight is going to be epic.

    • Foshizzel says:

      *returns with an epic high-five-of-awesome-power*

      Ahhh yes! I can recall hours and hours of killing one raid level boss for days with like 40+ people in WoW and then when you get that kill Teamspeak/ventrillo EXPLODES with cheering and screaming <3

      SAO looks fantastic! I would call it the best animation! Is that to early to say? Ahahaha

      Yep! I can’t wait to see more.

  3. xochandaox says:

    Haha.. Of course Fosh and OC..

    But I really enjoyed the first ep yall! I’m so excited for the 2nd, I keep checking the date.. lol since it summer, and.. I’m not sure if its Wednesday or Sunday.

    oh but the only concern i had was… what about the bodies needing to eat or drink thing?
    and lawl at the couple <3

    • Toori-chan says:

      Their bodies are sent to hospital IRL and they live on drips.

    • Foshizzel says:

      Yep! I am excited to work with her once again on something epic and it seems the two of us can relate quite well to the MMO world of things.

      First episode was fantastic! It looks like a Sunday night/Monday night series depending on how late you stay up? I tend to stay up late on Sunday nights or every other day honestly lol…

      Yeah p much what Toori-chan said xD

  4. Highway says:

    I don’t know if there’s much to say about the show yet. It was a great setup and execution of the concept. I like the comparisons to Accel World, and the way that show just feels like you either have no clue what’s going on or you’re drowning in explanation is almost anathema to SAO. They got the points about pulling up your menu, checking your stuff, health bars, all the ‘UI’ elements from it being a game in there without actually explaining anything. And by not making a big deal out of it, it drew you in more, making the viewer feel less stupid because they feel like they just notice it.

    Thanks for the writeup!

    • Overcooled says:

      Putting SAO and Accel World side-by-side speaks volumes of the strength of the “show, don’t tell” rule of story-telling. The viewers aren’t stupid – they can figure out how a video game works from seeing it in action.

    • Foshizzel says:

      Crossover one day? Kazuto vs Haru?! I would love that, but I think there is a fanart drawing of that floating around somewhere…

      • Elucidator says:

        the author of AW and SAO actually published a crossover oneshot in Accel World Volume 10.

  5. Luxor says:

    SAO is Diablo 3 hardcore xD

  6. Bob from Accounting says:

    This show may have won the season in terms of antagonist. What a deliciously diabolical maniac. I love him.

    • Overcooled says:

      Anyone who makes an entrance as blood oozing from the sky is most certainly a villain to watch out for. I like him too thus far!

    • Foshizzel says:

      I want that to be my gaming entrance like Boom I am a giant ball of red ooze bitches! WHAT DO YOU GOT!? NOTHING! And then vanish like a boss.

  7. Tofu says:

    Lesson 1: stick ‘em with the pointy end

    Game of Thrones reference!? 😀

    *ahem* Back on topic~ You can really see how Kawahara Reki has spotted the negatives to Accel World and created Sword Art Online with those in mind. I could imagine most of us being worried with how it’ll turn out since he wrote Accel World but I’m glad it blew my expectations ^^

    I expect nothing less from Kajiura Yuki in bringing out beautiful soundtracks that really sink into the atmosphere in episode 1. Of course the art is amazing too. There’s nothing I hate about Sword Art Online. In fact, it’s been a while since I found myself getting all giddy to watch the next episode! I only hope that the rest of the episodes will deliver as good as episode 1 ;D

    PS: Should I go and watch me some .Hack? Teehee! 😛

    • Andmeuths says:

      You do know that the author wrote SAO before Accel World, right? And that SAO started life as a web novel?

    • Foshizzel says:

      Accel World = Great “idea” just poor execution for me because every main character spends 50% of their time screaming at each other anyway that series is way to easy for me to pick on and I will refrain from bashing it before kyo comes at me with her shiki knifes xD

      SAO is so much better for me because I can sort of related to it more being a huge MMO fan that I am, but I also love .hack\\SIGN so that kept me interested and yes! You should! Or watch the most recent three OVAs?

      • Tofu says:

        What are the recent three OVA’s called Fosh? xD

        • Foshizzel says:

          ^^ That

          • Overcooled says:

            The OVAs are good, although they’re a little confusing for people unfamiliar with the .hack universe. However, they’re more fast-paced, exciting and likely to catch the attention of a newcomer. Anyways, you can count this as a rec from both from Fosh and I to watch at least Quantum and/or Sign.

            …And yes, that was a Game of Thrones reference. ;D

            • Foshizzel says:

              Yeah it was either that OVA series or the what 40+ first .hack series? YEaaaahh it is the same “idea” overall and I am sure you will love the Kana Hanazawa voice.

              I had no idea you watched Game of Thrones OC! Very cool~

  8. Toori-chan says:

    This is the very reason why I spent one month of flipping through the pages of the light novel. Reading the story was really interesting but watching it animated is a whole different experience.I love the art and how they expressed the game world. I’m really looking forward towards what A-1 Pictures have to offer and also Asuna’s appearance.

    • Foshizzel says:

      Yeah I heard the light novels were really good! I NEED to catch up on the Index light novels…so much anime so little time for me to read! Well after all the first impression posts I can spend some time reading.

      Yeah I can’t wait to see Asuna’s appearance and she appears to be a badass at least that is what the ED animation shows, but I know we will have a few weak characters running around here and there.

  9. skylion says:

    No magic! Well, sufficiently advanced swords skills are indistinguishable from magic….

    Great write up ya’ll!

    I suffer from absence seizures, so the stuff on the neuroscience behind this is a good “under the hood” level of understanding, Overcooled.

    And, Fosh? No loli is ever token. Got that?

    • Overcooled says:

      “No magic!” they say as their bodies are propelled forward with a mystical stream of red light trailing behind. Yep…

      Sorry about the absence seizures – that’s not the ideal way someone should come into contact with neuroscience knowledge D: Anyways, thanks for reading my science ramble!

      • skylion says:

        I say “suffer” when I should say “am annoyed greatly by”.

        And, your ramble made the blog better.

      • Foshizzel says:

        OC handles the science rambling quite well!

        While I focus on the OOOHS and AHHHS of the pretty moving animation <3 this is why everything works out!

    • Foshizzel says:

      No magic = no rez!? DAMN I WOULDN’T LAST LONG! I play mostly cloth characters which are easily two shot T___T

      I got it master xD

      Thanks! Always a blast to work with the Metanorn team <3

  10. JPNIgor says:

    God, even on Neurogear there are man using female avatar XD

    Well, SAO is a really beautiful anime. I would certainly believe that this is a fantasy game if there was blood in the place of red light indicating damage, and the pop-us popping up everywhere…

    Up until now, seems like only one main character was shown, that is Kirito. He sure is a deep character and is well built and believable. And I don’t really think that he is fragile. He is just fragile because of the situation he is now, after all, who wouldn’t be fragile if you were trapped inside a game?

    Well, I have lots of comparison to do with .hack series. Actually, the only thing that I didn’t like on SAO is that it practically steals the whole concept about virtual reality of .hack. But at least it is refined in SAO, since a gamer making all those movements with it’s avatar using a XBox-like control is very unlikely. The characters is ten times better in SAO and the animation, we can’t compare, after all, .hack is older than SAO.

    Sure, SAO is one of the greatest shows of this season, and deserves to be watched from the beggining to the end. I want to see Kirito exiting of the SAO *—*

    • Elucidator says:

      >>SAO is that it practically steals the whole concept about virtual reality of .hack

      Kawahara Reki started posting SAO chapters in his blog when .hack was still in production. I don’t think they’re stealing from each other.

    • Spinning says:

      Yes because .hack invented MMOs and Virtual Reality. No-one had ever even considered the concept before then! Imagine that!

    • Foshizzel says:

      LOLOLOL YEP! It has happened to me in lots of games so I just assume every chick character is really a guy it makes it easier, but I know a few girls that play male characters because they hate getting hit on.

      SAO = WINNER FOR BEST ANIMATION! I know am calling that award way too early I know…I can dream right?

      Yeah Kirito seems to be fully prepared to fight his way through all one hundred floors in the game world! At least he is not a weak push over.

      True the creators of SAO seriously have to thank the minds behind the .hack\\SIGN series for a lot! That said if you think about it is any anime really all that original? I know people gave Guilty Crown hell because it rips off Code Geass and a few other “mecha” themed series out there.

      One day we will have our own .hack\\SIGN game or will we? It seems that virtual reality and MMOs together are still a thing we can dream about I mean as long as we avoid getting stuck inside them…

      SAO is fun but non mmo fans/.hack fans will probably get bored really fast! Lolol yep Kirito needs to finish this final game xD

  11. PocariSweat says:

    Well this is the most hyped show of the season, and the first episode solidly laid the foundation work for what’s to come.

    Will it match the hype? Only time will tell!

    • Foshizzel says:

      Hell ya! Hyped up to insane levels and I loveeeee it <3

      I hope so I really really hope it can.

  12. D-LaN says:

    Honestly, if Kayaba really said tht line, it woould around the line of such reaction: ==/o.O/D:/>.<

    Well, as the writer of RC preview said:

    To me, it’s analogous to holding someone at gunpoint and forcing them to play World of Warcraft with Diablo’s hardcore mode.

    So true. Even if I want to play P4G/VN with such devices but…. PASS. I’ll play the SAO PSP game 4 now. (If its being localise in future)

    Production quality check, good adaptation check, goofy charac check, srs business check, good action check. I am following this LP of SAO.

    • Foshizzel says:

      Well said from that RC post

      If I only had a PSP! One of these days…yes…I will get one!

      SAO = Winner of best animation summer 2012! CALLING IT NOW.

  13. Samantha Zan says:

    Honestly I had no idea what this show was going to be about, and this just blew me away. The story is by far one of the most interesting this season. Being stuck in a MMORPG and then now having to fight your way through to get out alive? Loving it, and also loving the twisted idea that if you die there you die in the real world. (Kind of reminded me of a Nightmare on Elm Street lol)

    I also do really like the main character too, thought can’t wait to meet the other chick on the poster. She looks pretty badass XD

    Another thing I really liked, is how they incorporated that idea of just trolling players online that disguise themselves as a girl, only to be fooled that it’s a guy. (Proves the statement of G.I.R.L.= Guy in real life XD) That just made me LOL

    Can’t wait for the next episode! (Woot! LiSA opening :D)

    • BlackBriar says:

      I agree. The twisted manner of their death sums up “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “The Matrix”. But more like The Matrix since you plug yourself in, bound to the rules of the system instead of falling in and out of sleep. It’s like a coma state.

    • Foshizzel says:

      Yeah the concept is really amazing! In the .hack series you only had like a handful of people that were stuck, but in SAO EVERYONE is fighting for survival which adds a bit of excitement to this series.

      Main chara is great and not some weakling and he got to play in the beta so he might have some hidden tricks.

      (Proves the statement of G.I.R.L.= Guy in real life XD) Ahahah yes! I have heard that statement before xD

  14. BlackBriar says:

    Well, Sword Art Online is definitely worthy of its hype. I’m already getting the .hack franchise nostalgia flooding from this and similarities to Accel World. This is quite the situation the characters have been plunged into. Being locked into a virtual game that can cost you your life if you lose. I know that as humans, we all want an escape because of everyday life so we drown ourselves in whatever makes us comfortable. But this is slapping you in the face saying “be careful what you wish for”.

    It’s very intimidating how 2000 players have died in the first month alone. The manner of death presented here very much resembles that of The Matrix where you’ll die the same way in the real world as you would in the game. The microwave is most likely directly in contact with your cortex (brain). I don’t think you should tamper with it. The question is, how will they maintain their body in real world as the game has progressed for a month? They can’t eat/drink. They are like coma patients connected to IV drops.

    The pacing was very good, characters are interesting and the story has a lot of potential. The backgrounds are beautifully drawn. Kirito is a cool and level-headed protagonist which is good. I wonder how the female lead will be.

    • Foshizzel says:

      Them damn vidya games yo! They are multiplying! Just kidding I always enjoy the idea of exploring a game world with cool animation and I do love every .hack\\SIGN anime that gets released.

      I know right? 2000 dead with in one month!? GOOD LORD Those players are in some deep trouble…right those devices are freaky and your brain can get fried? Ewwwwww

      Amazing animation across everything <3

      • D-LaN says:

        The manga actually shows how some of those 2000 players die.
        To sum it up, the players unable to accept reality and went reckless/nut. Not to mention ppl kinda get nervous when a monster charge at you if u know u r dying 4 real…. And tht not even going to other details….

        But hey, human can adapt.

  15. Nuu says:

    I never caught .dot//hack(sp?) in its entirety. Only bits and pieces. That’s before I could play online. Of course now I’m really into GuildWars2 & the upcoming borderlands 2, so I guess I’ll try to watch this

  16. Elucidator says:

    Foshizzel you sure are hyper.

    Anyway, i’m pumped up for the next episode, especially with the website posting the preview for episode 2 XD.

    • Foshizzel says:

      Ahahah yeah what can I say I always have a good time everyday <3

      Yeah same here I look forward to your comments as we tackle this interesting series.

    • skylion says:

      Wow. Fosh? Hyper?! You’ve never seen me, have you.

      I’m hoping they spend some time on character development, which is going to be the strength of the show. Equally I hope they spend time developing how the outside world reacts to this SAO situation…cause really “trapped in a computer world” is kinda bland ten years after the Matrix. Those two things I mention above will make or break this show. I have to care about these people.

  17. Zungle says:

    “…made me wonder if the anime creators did their homework or maybe they have had similar experiences while playing games” Anime creators? The “anime creators” didn’t create anything that has to do with storyline, the whole storyline comes from the lightnovels, that are still ongoing, and are very far from where the anime is even today.

    PS: I know this thread is quite old so I apologize.

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