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Understanding Sword Art Online


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7jaws7



Joined: 17 Aug 2013
Posts: 537
Location: New York State
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:34 am Reply with quote
I dropped it after the first episode. Just seeing that final shot of most of the game's prisoners dying felt so pretentious. People also keep telling me not to watch it, and honestly I've never liked the trapped in a video game genre anyways.
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Bastille



Joined: 01 Jun 2011
Posts: 55
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:35 am Reply with quote
Great article. A lot of people bash SAO for its flaws without caring for any of the context behind why everything turned out the way it did. Hopefully this will change some peoples' minds.
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killjoy_the



Joined: 30 May 2015
Posts: 1502
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:45 am Reply with quote
Bastille wrote:
Great article. A lot of people bash SAO for its flaws without caring for any of the context behind why everything turned out the way it did. Hopefully this will change some peoples' minds.


It peeked my interest on Progressive, which was something I've had on my backlog for a while. Knowing that SAO came before Accel World just feels weird, though - I find the latter to be so much worse in every way.
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SpacemanHardy



Joined: 03 Jan 2012
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:46 am Reply with quote
This is why even though I loathe SAO, I can't bring myself to hate Kawahara. He openly admits that it's not his best work and believes Accel World to be far superior (which it is in almost every possible way, if you ask me).
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Gemnist



Joined: 10 Feb 2016
Posts: 1000
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:51 am Reply with quote
I guess it's nice to know that Kawahara knows SAO has many flaws... but he didn't address his lack of knowledge of MMOs.
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Cam0



Joined: 13 Dec 2009
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:58 am Reply with quote
Quote:
Kawahara has always regretted in particular that the Aincrad storyline—the one where SAO gets its entire “stuck in a death game” premise from—is resolved in only one volume.


Yeah, I always found this to be a bit unfortunate. The Aincrad arc had a ton of potential, but it was resolved way too quickly. I hope that Progressive gets adapted into anime someday. It does have a manga adaption though, right? If it never gets an anime, then I think I'll eventually check out the manga as Progressive does sound rather interesting to me.
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SilverTalon01



Joined: 02 Apr 2012
Posts: 1709
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:02 pm Reply with quote
SpacemanHardy wrote:
This is why even though I loathe SAO, I can't bring myself to hate Kawahara. He openly admits that it's not his best work and believes Accel World to be far superior (which it is in almost every possible way, if you ask me).


I'd also agree with that. However, I think the biggest factor there is Kirito. Kirito kind of drags down every arc except the original because of how overpowered he is. SAO really shines when Kirito isn't the focus though. The Mother's Rosario arc and the second half of Alicization were really solid.

Gemnist wrote:
I guess it's nice to know that Kawahara knows SAO has many flaws... but he didn't address his lack of knowledge of MMOs.


Actually, his use of mmo mechanics was pretty solid. In fact that he did such a good job with them given when he wrote SAO really grabbed my attention.

Cam0 wrote:
Yeah, I always found this to be a bit unfortunate. The Aincrad arc had a ton of potential, but it was resolved way too quickly. I hope that Progressive gets adapted into anime someday. It does have a manga adaption though, right? If it never gets an anime, then I think I'll eventually check out the manga as Progressive does sound rather interesting to me.


Progressive is really good if you're interested in the game's mechanics, quests, and Kirito/Asuna development. It has more of a fun adventure feel than the survival feel of the original SAO novel.


Last edited by SilverTalon01 on Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Pipoko



Joined: 13 Jun 2014
Posts: 138
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:03 pm Reply with quote
That is really interesting! It's been a "very bad, but not boring kind of bad" kind of hatewatch series to me and it definitely genuinely got "better" after the Fairy Dance arc, but I'm actually very curious about Sword Art Online: Progressive and whatever comes from this point on now where the apparently "old stuff" ends and whether the story will improve (people say the arc after Mothers' Rosario already got a lot better, but I don't really follow the novels except for maybe one or two glimpses towards summaries - just don't care enough because it isn't very good.

It doesn't have an super original premise, but SAO has the potential to do something really interesting if the writing got better.
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Akane the Catgirl



Joined: 09 Oct 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:16 pm Reply with quote
Interesting article! Last year, I decided to recap the entirety of SAO's first season. "Aincrad" was...flawed. It's plot was near nonexistent, it's pacing garbage, and it's main lead blandly underwritten. And yet, it wasn't nearly as bad as it's most ardent haters said it was, nor as good as it's most obsessed fans claimed it to be. I mean, it had a nice cast of supporting characters, amazing production values, and if it didn't exist, we never would have gotten the abridged series from Something Witty Entertainment.

I never once talked about Kawahara during my recaps, and this article points out why. Kawahara does not strike me as someone who is a bad person, per say. He admits when he screwed up, has a huge passion for the art of writing, and if anything, has improved in the years since writing SAO. It's just that the impression I got was that the man was a huge fan of speculative fiction, but didn't quite get what made the genre good. I'm glad he doesn't get overtly defensive of his past work, and I would like to watch Accel World and see if he's become a better storyteller or not.

As for Kirito, EVERYONE on both sides talks about the god-modding. Every. Freaking. One. Me, I think there are far more things to discuss about him than just whether or not he's overpowered. Put him in a vaccuum, and Kirito is just another generic nice guy protag. The bigger issue I had was that it felt like nothing could get accomplished within the narrative unless Kirito was somehow involved. The murder mystery, Silica's episode, the final battle with Kuradeel among others, could have easily been resolved by other, far more deserving characters. All three conflicts conclude with the spotlight being hogged by Kirito and his awesomeness, when it really shouldn't have. (Also, he doesn't have a motive for anything he does, or a consistent personality, or any real setbacks or flaws that matter in a way, but that's a whole 'nother can of worms.)

And Asuna...yeah, I was debating with a friend about this earlier, and I think I figured out why Asuna getting together with Kirito ruined her character. It wasn't that they were in love at all (one of my feminist icons, Holo the Wise Wolf, has a relationship that acts as the anchor of her story), or that she becomes less awesome. It's that before and when she becomes a couple with Kirito, Asuna's personality changes into that of yet another understanding, domestic, underwritten hot chick. She starts to pick up more socially acceptable traits like cooking and being motherly the farther along in their relationship they get, because That's What Women Do apparently. Though yeah, that's nothing compared to her uselessness in "Fairy Dance", which deserves to die in the fiery pits of the underworld.
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Bastille



Joined: 01 Jun 2011
Posts: 55
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:21 pm Reply with quote
Gemnist wrote:
I guess it's nice to know that Kawahara knows SAO has many flaws... but he didn't address his lack of knowledge of MMOs.


I think if you asked Kawahara, he would openly admit his knowledge on MMOs isn't as deep as he'd like. Gotta keep in mind though that the MMO scene, especially in Japan, was an entirely different beast than it is now. At the time he started writing SAO, there would have pretty much only been Lineage as well as Phantasy Star Online, which would have only recently come out. Anything for .hack, FFXI, or Ragnarok Online would be limited to previews as none of those were released at the time.
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angelmcazares
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Joined: 23 Sep 2010
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:28 pm Reply with quote
Lol. The title of this piece lends itself perfectly for mockery. Understanding SAO is simple: it is a mediocre story written by a not very smart fanboy. And this is not a backlash due to Sword Art Online's popularity. It is a decent show (the anime), and it is good that its popularity has made a lot of money for the anime industry.

But every time someone tries to argue that SAO is well written, I will keep rolling my eyes.


P.S. I will argue that Monogatari has been the most important light novel franchise for the last 9-10 years.


Last edited by angelmcazares on Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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TUSF



Joined: 11 Oct 2013
Posts: 141
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:32 pm Reply with quote
Akane the Catgirl wrote:
The murder mystery, Silica's episode, the final battle with Kuradeel among others, could have easily been resolved by other, far more deserving characters.


This one in particular has always been a point that annoys me to no end. There's a translation of the original web draft for this scene, where Asuna was the one to finish off Kuradeel without Kirito doing anything.
Finding out that this scene was changed in the published version has always been something I find to be unfortunate, as it took away a scene where Asuna was able to fix a problem that had been plaguing her, instead of requiring Kirito to clean up for her.

My only guess is that Asuna mercilessly killing Kuradeel would have "tainted" her in some way, so his editor had him change it.
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Paul D. Atreides



Joined: 17 Jan 2016
Posts: 128
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:33 pm Reply with quote
It's too bad that reading fiction books isn't really my thing, because I'd love to read the original series and compare it with the reboot. I'm also very interested in The Isolator, in fact I have the first volume, I'm just not sure when I'll read it (if ever).

At least I'll always have the anime adaptation.
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SilverTalon01



Joined: 02 Apr 2012
Posts: 1709
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:35 pm Reply with quote
Bastille wrote:
Gotta keep in mind though that the MMO scene, especially in Japan, was an entirely different beast than it is now.


Yeah, I think a lot of it just went over the heads of mmo players that started when the genre became mainstream. Whoever it was that did the reviews for ANN definitely missed that some games had mechanics that actually worked similarly. I understand that when the anime actually came out, mmorpgs had changed, but you have to keep in mind when the story was actually written.

TUSF wrote:
My only guess is that Asuna mercilessly killing Kuradeel would have "tainted" her in some way, so his editor had him change it.


It would have though. It would have tainted Kirito to mercilessly kill him as well. I don't think Asuna killing him would taint her, but it would need to be to protect Kirito or some other important reason. We are talking about taking a human life. Having a character do so mercilessly will definitely taint them.
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Bastille



Joined: 01 Jun 2011
Posts: 55
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:57 pm Reply with quote
SilverTalon01 wrote:
TUSF wrote:
My only guess is that Asuna mercilessly killing Kuradeel would have "tainted" her in some way, so his editor had him change it.


It would have though. It would have tainted Kirito to mercilessly kill him as well. I don't think Asuna killing him would taint her, but it would need to be to protect Kirito or some other important reason. We are talking about taking a human life. Having a character do so mercilessly will definitely taint them.


It also serves as a means, albeit not as well fleshed out as it could have been, of character development for Kirito. He has to be the one to overcome the guilt and pain at taking another player's life. Had it been Asuna, you'd have Mr. Perfect there to console an Asuna who is likely traumatized from having killed someone (even though it was for a just cause). There's pros and cons to both characters being the one to finish him off but I do feel Kirito was the right choice.
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