[Review] Sword Art Online episode 2 (hate rant warning)

Call me an anime hater, a emo gothic… darkness lover or whatever, but I was really fricking disappointed to see that SAO isn’t even close to handling its concept to full potential. Yes, it is because there weren’t enough dark aspects shown, which there should have been more of. Hear me out.

In other action animes, we usually assume the characters would manage through their huge fights one way or another, and we’re usually not worried that the characters would die. Heck, the characters aren’t even worried they’ll die most of the time, because they’re trained and they trust in their abilities. No one panics before a fight, nobody ditches the team in a moment of selfishness, no one backs down from a risky battle… no one does anything other than charge on with their swords high with perfect morals and no worry about death.

Sword Art Online took that path right down to heroic, inspirational final words. Is that necessarily wrong? No, but there is one big difference that sets SAO apart that I almost forgot about in this episode. The characters in SAO are not slaying monsters out of justice or some other idea bigger than themselves; they are fighting for survival, and for SAO to be handled like a typical heroic anime despite that makes me pissed.

Two thousand players have already died. Sure, people screamed when they were told dying in the game means real death, but now when they’re going up against a boss, nobody gets scared? Nobody considers the idea that hey, maybe it’s better to just live in the game and give up trying to beat it since that seems beyond impossible? Why is every single person here a perfect hero?

There is a character that died trying to get some bonus item, and he died with encouraging words and a smile on his face. Are you kidding me? If I were that character, my final words would be “I shouldn’t have tried to take the bonus!” followed by every single cuss word I know. That guy was as average as you and me. Every single character is as average as you and me (unless you’re not actually as average as I assume, in which case it’d just be me). They were normal people trying out a new game, then suddenly BOOM, they’re fighting for their lives, and nobody was equipped with the mental fortitude that it takes to do that. However, when you watch this episode, you really don’t feel any of that, which is my issue with SAO.

Now I feel like I need to take a step back. This is not a bad anime; I was just extremely disappointed that it has neglected a large part of what made its concept so interesting: the threat of death. Regardless, I am still curious to find out how they beat this nearly impossible game, but my hype has lowered considerably.

To finish off the review on a better note, here’s something that I did like about the episode: the rift between the new players and the beta testers, which was realistic and very well carried out. Know what, if SAO can address at least one serious issue each episode, then I can bear through its overly-optimistic mood.

Episode rating: 5 / 10 (Average)

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10 thoughts on “[Review] Sword Art Online episode 2 (hate rant warning)

    • Dang, I didn’t know about any of that. Thanks for showing me.

      I usually just assume that adaptations are generally faithful if not limited to the original, so I never thought that so much of an anime’s weaknesses could come from horrible adaptation. Now I feel really sorry for everyone that read the light novel.

      • You’re welcome. (=

        I think if a Non-Anime original was indeed well-hyped, and it flopped, it does suggest it’s more likely that the anime botched the source material badly, rather than the other way round.

        Off hand, I can name three other very badly botched adaptations – Negima (horrendously, horrendously botched, a very painful watch if you read the manga- wrong mind-set.), The World God only Knows (terrible pacing) and Medaka Box (excessive focus on the weakest arc of the entire manga, wrong genre mind-set again, and this time, ironically too faithful adaptation of a story that did not translate well into anime without some careful adaptation and ommision.)

        So, it’s not a unique phenomena. Of course, the tricky part is know when the Source material is horrible to begin with.

        Next episode, I think they’d botch Red Nose Reindeer too, just because the studio seems to be in some strange hurry, as if they are working against a one cour deadline.

  1. Diabel is supposed to be a beta tester as well, but how come he doesn’t notice floor 10 sword skills?

    Diabel dies smiling.

    “I had seen many players die in SAO. They all had the same expression on their faces as they shattered into countless fragments and disappeared; it was always the same simple expression of pondering, one that asked, “am I really going to just die like this?” “(http://www.baka-tsuki.org/project/index.php?title=Sword_Art_Online:Volume_1_Chapter_15)

    The dragon tamer from Vol:2 was visible in episode 1 (18:36)http://www.animedreaming.tv/sword-art-online-episode-1/
    light novel:http://www.baka-tsuki.org/project/images/archive/3/3a/20120715055957!Sword_Art_Online_Vol_02_-_033.jpg

    It seems like they are going to be doing a lot of the chronological fixes, and not focus so much on the first volume until later

  2. The anime wasn’t bad, I mean, the first two episodes were completely bogus and nothing like the light novels- and episode 2 never happened in the books, and it pretty much ruined the original plot of how Kirito and Asuna met(they actually met on a higher level). Not to mention the term beater- was ment for all the beta testers, not just Kirito.

    *Sigh* like every book that got turned into a movie, and every visual novel that got turned into an anime, it’s never gonna be the same… guess gotta put up with it… =_=

    • Actually Episode 2 did happen in the book. It’s one of the side stories called “Aria in the Starless Night” The anime is happening in chronological order, something the light novel didn’t do. The light novel started 2 years after the start and made massive time skips back and forth to explain things as well as a whole collection of side stories that explain the concepts.

      The anime didn’t “ruin” the original plot, Asuna and Kirito met ages ago before the meeting in the higher levels. They just weren’t that “close” back then. The term ‘Beater’ was meant specifically for Kirito who had decided to take off the hate on the “beta testers” and protect the Beta testers he knew. (The annoying thing about the anime is they cut off an entire character which was crucial to this part of the story)

      The anime is following the novel quite faithfully, unlike other animes I know. The only frustrating thing is they are cutting out parts of the story to make it all fit into one episode. Aria of the starless night should have gotten 2 episodes at least, to cover the 200 pages of text that was in the light novel.

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