I have taken my Sword Art Online Retrospective down after I got into an in-depth discussion with Silvachief from The Geek Clinic. In it he pointed out that many of the problems I mentioned actually made sense in the context of the anime. If you want to, you can read the full discussion here. Having enjoyed Sword Art Online, Silvachief mostly took the defensive stance against my problems with the anime and we both Conceded to different points until meeting halfway and making a comprehensive list of problems with the anime that go from the Legitimate to simply being Nit-Picky.
- The blatant fan service that pervades the entire series.
- There is no excuse for the willpower vs. video game mechanics deus ex machinas. The “willpower triumphs over all trope” is simply bad writing and there’s no getting around that.
- Haremisation through every single female character in love with Kirito doesn’t really serve a purpose when he already has a chosen partner. It’s fan-pandering and nothing else.
- Making Asuna a damsel in distress. Considering her major role in the first season, practically cutting her out and ignoring her original image was a bad decision.
- One rapey scene is understandable, but when they are used multiple times they quickly become the easy way to make your audience uncomfortable and it’s lazy writing. And this is not just the tentacle scene, though that is also obvious fan service.
- Bad guy puts his important research lab in a place which was the goal of the game was to get into.
- Kirito does not put his foot down and tell other women he’s taken, which is only for the purpose of continuing the harem trope. Worst of all is that he uses ambiguity to lead his sister on.
- The fact the headsets were mass-produced at all. The hazard or quality assurance division of a company overlooking a headset that could fry a human brain is pretty far-fetched.
- There is big lack of overweight people or other gamer stereotypes in Aincrad, despite the headset scanning the players’ bodies for their avatar.
- Having randomly generated avatars in Gun Gale was a stupid game mechanic used as an excuse to make Kirito look like a girl despite Sinon looking almost identical to her appearance in real life.
- Many exposition dumps in cafes and restaurants with a few overly long ones.
- Writing heroines that are trying to get away from their teams in both arcs is lazy writing.
- Lazy writing in having a demon illusion being solid and then not explaining why
- Neither asking about nor mentioning Asuna’s name to Leafa in the second arc up until the climax strange considering she is Kirito’s main goal in Alfheim.
- Not explaining minor things like why they don’t fly instead of run when climbing the tree path.
- When Kirito first enters Alfheim, it is weird is that he managed to download Yui’s program in the two seconds he had access to the admin account.
- The explanation of ‘rotation’ would have made more sense if they had used the term going AFK rather than ‘Logging out’.
- The fact that dual wielding is a special skill in Aincrad but not in Alfheim is not explained but instead being the act of “using separate one-handed attacks one after another”.
- In the fight with Eugene, him exploding when he died was inconsistent with other in-game deaths
- Without the foresight that the other guilds would return the favor in assisting him, and without knowing how long it would take him to get to the top of the tree, it could be seen that Kirito wasted a lot of time in Alfheim that he might have needed to save Asuna.
- In the chase scene with Death Gun, if he had hit Kirito (or anyone he hadn’t previously explained to his partners) with his ‘handgun method’ of killing players would have been revealed.
- At the end of SAO II, Kirito could have logged out and rang the police while Sinon delayed Death Gun in the game to save her from his partner’s actions.
- One grinding montage would have been fine and potentially awesome.
In our discussion there were certain aspects of the anime we couldn’t see eye-to-eye on, mostly pertaining to the character reactions and mechanics of the games in the anime, generally because we saw them differently. These we had to agree to disagree on.
Kirito Outing Himself as a Beta Tester
- Lazarinth: I think the goal of Kirito outing himself as a beta tester was pointless because it wouldn’t have stopped others in the game from distrusting players they suspected of being beta testers.
- Silvachief: I think Kirito outing himself would’ve stopped others distrusting players because, by making it about his personality rather than status, it unified them all through a common enemy. They were too busy hating him to worry about each other.
- (This didn’t make sense to me because they knew there were multiple beta testers)
Akihiko’s Motive For Creating the Game
- Lazarinth: I’m not content with Akihiko’s motive being forgotten as I believe his original motive, if revealed, could have been interesting and I felt just saying that he forgot was a bit of a cop-out.
- Silvachief: I am content with Akihiko forgetting and not revealing his motive because I think, after his time in the game, he no longer cared rather than that his reasons straight up slipped his mind. Considering he spent the preceding two years playing out another persona, and the fact that his mental state was already questionable, I don’t think it’s that weird.
- (Just a difference in preferences here)
Sugou’s Adoption into Asuna’s Family
- Lazarinth: I think using the term ‘adoption’ instead of succession when relating to marriage was confusing.
- Silvachief: I don’t because it’s a common practice in Japan where the series is set. A full localization might have changed the wording but I don’t think it’s that foreign a concept anyway.
- (I thought Adoption leading to marriage is a foreign concept to most Westerners)
Kirito’s Reaction to Sugou Claiming Asuna as his Waifu
- Lazarinth: With the knowledge he had of Asuna’s personality and how she would have responded to hearing this claim, he should have just laughed in Sugou’s face.
- Silvachief: Kirito is an insecure teenager who doesn’t know for sure that Asuna will be able to disobey her parents so his reaction makes sense, especially when considering the dynamics of powerful business families.
- (I suppose Kirito wasn’t confident enough in how well he knew her)
Kirito’s Reaction to Sugou Touching Asuna in the Hospital
- Lazarinth: Kirito should have asked for security supervision, her to be shifted to a room with a security camera or put a hidden camera in the room so he wouldn’t get away with it.
- Silvachief: Kirito doing nothing makes sense because in his situation Sugou would have had too much influence with Asuna’s family and the hospital for his actions to have done anything. I mean, in an ideal situation that would have been fine, but we’re talking about nasty anime hospitals mired in politics and greed.
- (This didn’t make sense to me as there’s nothing stopping him from acting independently)
Similarities Between Games
- Lazarinth: I think that the game premise of travelling to the stop of a many-floored tower sounds similar to the premise of getting to the top of a very tall tree.
- Silvachief: Put like that, yeah. But if you know the specifics of the games they’re very different.
- (Similar premise, different specifics)
Returning to Virtual Gaming after Aincrad
- Lazarinth: With Asuna’s photograph, I think Kirito should have at least asked for outside help first before he delved into another game that might have potentially held risks for him.
- Silvachief: I don’t think there were many risks in Alfheim, I don’t think a goverment agency would move on that kind of information and if he hadn’t returned there would have been no second arc.
- (From this premise, I think no second arc would have been a good thing)
- Lazarinth: Considering Suguha knew that Kirito had a girlfriend he was committed to, I think Suguha’s confession was at tad inconsiderate.
- Silvachief: Considering she was upset and Kirito asked her why she was upset, not really. Even if I were to call it inconsiderate, it would still be understandable.
(Inconsiderate but understandable, sounds right to me.)
Kirito’s Reaction to Suguo’s Attack IRL
- Lazarinth: I thought Sugou was determined to kill Kirito and would have tried again, Kirito should have immbolised him in that Kirito’s situation.
- Silvachief: Considering Sugou’s position at the end of the confrontation, the proximity of the hospital and Kirito’s physical advantage over Sugou, I think Kirito’s choice was fine.
- (I’m wouldn’t have been that optimistic)
On the Parent’s Reactions
- Lazarinth: I think some parent’s reaction to the games or headsets or Kirito or Suguha’s actions after what happened would have been important to the plot.
- Silvachief: In realistic world, yes, but I don’t think it would have fit and may have simply represented an awkward stumbling block before the action really began.
- (Why shouldn’t the real world in SAO not be realistic? Because it’s an anime?)
POINTS FROM MY PREVIOUS POSTS I CONCEDE ARE NOT REAL PROBLEMS
This where I had to put my pride aside and admit the error of my previous comments in my Retrospect and First Reactions Post. This is because Silvachief frankly made some very good points to justify what I considered to be really stupid parts of the anime.
Protecting the Children
- Silvachief : The children are players; you hear them being told to equip their gear at one point.
- Lazarinth: They had the same chance at being good at the game.
- Silvachief : Perhaps, but it’s unlikely the adults wanted them to be put at risk; they may not even fully appreciate the risks they would be taking. Given how young they were they needed a continuing education while stuck in the game which is probably what the orphanage gave them. Also, it’s unlikely that the clearing team would have wanted to put up with children.
- Lazarinth: True, children are annoying.
- LAZARINTH CONCEDES
Oberon’s Motive to Control People’s Mind
- Silvachief : It wasn’t for the game, it was to sell the technology to someone who wanted to take advantage of it so he could become very wealthy.
- Lazarinth: I’ll give you this one, he wanted power over people, that’s a better motive than it not being revealed at all because of forgetfulness.
- LAZARINTH CONCEDES
Kirito Fighting Against Groups when First in Alfheim
- Silvachief : He’s learned to fly properly, just with the remote. We see the kid who has a crush on Sugu flying with a remote later on and still doing pretty well too.
- Lazarinth: I’ll give you this one considering the playing ‘skill’ was passed on and its similarities to Aincrad, plus it did say it was all skill and not a level or ability-based game.
- LAZARINTH CONCEDES
Kirito’s Spurned Women’s Club
- Silvachief : When the people involved are both your friend it’s not that abnormal to keep
hanging out despite liking one of them. It would suck, certainly, but I don’t think it’s that weird.
- Lazarinth: I’ll give you this one because I’ve seen it happen IRL.
Kirito’s Intention to get Closer to Suguha Contradicted his Actions
- Silvachief : Yes, he wants to get closer to Suguha, it’s just that he kinda wants to save his girlfriend right now.
- LAZARINTH CONCEDES