Sword Art Online – 02

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One of the hardest things to do as an anime blogger is to separate preconception from genuine criticism.

[HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_00.31_[2012.07.15_07.55.00]There are definitely times when I’m glad I don’t know the source material for an anime, and SAO is one of them.  Just to reiterate, I’m watching this series completely unencumbered – I haven’t read the LNs or played the MMO, and all I know about SAO is what I’ve read in a the synopses.  Still, with a series as big as this one, it’s hard to avoid the massive waves of reaction that follow each episode – for example, the massive shitstorm of dismay from SAO veterans that inundated my Twitter and the net as soon as this episode aired (that new 5-hour delay in simulcasting sucks, because I was able to watch the premiere effectively live and preempt all that).  So now the challenge is to try and be as certain as I can that what I thought about the ep was really what I thought, and not a composite of everyone else’s reaction.

[HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_02.28_[2012.07.15_07.56.58]With that in mind, my general take is that this episode was not as strong as the first – but still solidly above-average for what it is.  I don’t particularly care what was skipped over or what was missing – not my problem – but as to the question of whether things seemed “rushed”, perhaps just a little bit – but I didn’t expect SAO to be an exacting catalogue of daily life in an MMO.  What the episode might have lacked a bit was the sense of wonder of the premiere – VR series are especially well-suited to the world-building phase, and SAO tool full advantage of that last week.   Things felt a little more conventional this week, and the tone was a bit theatrical for my tastes.  I also missed Klein quite a bit actually, both for Hirata-san’s performance and because he made an excellent audience avatar.

[HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_03.13_[2012.07.15_07.57.43]As consolation for losing him, though, we get anime’s great chameleon Tomatsu Haruka (the pleasure of listening to her act is matched by that of listening to her sing, in this case the ED) who turns up as Asuna Yuuki.  She, like Kirito, is a bit of a loner – hiding her features inside a hooded cloak as she keeps to herself.  It’s a month into the game and 2000 have already died (a pretty harrowing rate of attrition) and busybody Diabel gathers a group of survivors together to take on the top boss of level 1, “Illfang the Kobold Lord”.  No one has been able to clear the level yet, but it seems to me that the turnout for Diabel’s town meeting is pretty sad, all things considered – perhaps reflecting a general sense of mistrust among the survivors.

[HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_03.37_[2012.07.15_07.58.07]Most of the episode concerns the dynamics of the surviving group, specifically as it relates to beta testers.  Diabel is one himself, though he’s not letting anyone else know that – and of course, Kirito is too.  There’s obviously a lot of hostility towards this group, especially the ones called “Beaters” – beta testers who use their knowledge to “cheat”.  What’s interesting is that Kirito seems quite comfortable in isolationist mode, even encouraging the others to revile him as a Beater after he manages to defeat Illfang.  It goes without saying that the survivors shouldn’t be turning on each other, considering the fix they’re in – but I think we’re also seeing a bit of commentary on the fact that some of the folks who would be drawn to SAO aren’t necessarily the most adept at RL social skills, and that carries over into the game.

[HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_04.14_[2012.07.15_07.58.43]In that sense, Asuna seems like a good pairing for Kirito, as she’s just as socially inept as he is (inside the game, anyway).  In fact she’s never even been in a party before, not knowing any of the protocols or even that the other party members’ names appear next to their health gauge.  Their initial alliance at Kirito’s suggestion is one of convenience, given that they were the only ones in Diabel’s audience who didn’t form up a party of six, but it’s obvious enough that Kirito is pretty lonely in SAO just as he was in RL.  As for Asuna, we really don’t know much about her except that she’s highly skilled with a blade and quite cute underneath that cloak.  As for the battle with Illfang itself, it’s quite well-animated and stylish – if anything, I found it reminiscent of something from TTGL.  Ultimately I don’t think the sword battles are going to be the most interesting element here, but it’s obviously critical that they look good and feel authentic.

[HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_05.02_[2012.07.15_07.59.31]With the first floor cleared the quest continues, and the politics of SAO is clearly going to be a major component of the story.  Despite Kirito’s attempts to isolate himself he and Asuna will obviously be pairing up, but the fault lines in the general populace are already clear – there are anti- beater hardliners such as Kibaou, and pragmatic moderates like Egil.  It’ll be interesting to see if there’s any true effort made to organize the surviving players as a body, with true leaders emerging – the “herding cats” analogy springs to mind here, but given their situation it seems logical that someone will make the attempt.  If you look at SAO as a twisted social experiment by Akihiko Kayaba, it’s these sort of questions that will be at the heart of the story – and ultimately, for me at least, I think they’d be more interesting than a straightforward depiction of the game itself.

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ED: “Yume Sekai (ユメセカイ; Dream World)” by Haruka Tomatsu

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  1. A

    Asuna said "Even if I die, I don't want to lose to this game". Isn't dying the exact definition of losing, or am I missing something here?…

    Why the hell did the leader decline the potion given to him by Kirito? Did he suddenly become selfless? Because he literally just risked his life and the whole operation in order to get equipment. And even if he did, why decline the potion? He is an experienced fighter obviously. Why doesn't he get up and fight for the others?

    Damn, this is so stupid.

  2. b

    Got ninja'd by a Frodo…

    See his HP decreasing? He was already goners when Kirito got to him. Potions in the lower levels are HoT or heals over time. Even if he administered the potion, his HP would still have dropped to 0.
    Plus it's also him resigning to his fate because of his stupidity in getting the last attack. That's why he asked Kirito to finish the boss for all the people.

  3. J

    Asuna's line reflected her desire to die on her own terms, not as a result of in-game circumstances. The sentence was very poorly worded.

    As for Diabel's death, I was informed by others more knowledgeable than I that he was dead no matter what; he had already received enough damage to result in his death, but the HP bar decreases at a specified rate instead of immediately subtracting the damage taken from it. Taking the potion would do nothing since he was technically already dead. A questionable mechanic at best, but it does permit the "hero's last words" event to happen in the context of the show.

    I'm not a fan of the way the MMO elements have played out so far except for the stellar menu interface (which is oh so beautiful). However, the social intricacies of the world are interesting and are certainly enough to keep me watching.

  4. A

    This makes zero sense. How come Kirito didn't know about that? They were both beta testers, weren't they?

  5. b

    >Person got attacked
    >Person goes down on the ground
    >Obviously hurt
    Of course the first course of action is to help and administer aid, in this case give a potion. That's a natural response for people. Kirito obviously knows about the HoT pots but nevertheless the first reaction is to give him a healing item. But Diabel took a critical hit from that combo by Ilfang so it's obviously not going to work anymore.

  6. A

    Yeah, right. It's all very convenient, isn't it? The mere fact that so many questions can be raised from this scene, and so much contrivance-full explaining has to be done for this to even remotely make any kind of sense, means that it's horribly written. Not only is it forced drama, it's highly contrived and ultimately illogical as he also gets to be the hero in Kirito's head… for what?

    Let me accept that interpretation about Asuna, for the sake of arguing.
    If dying by monsters is not an in-game circumstance, then:
    (a) How would you define it?
    (b) What's an in-game circumstance?

  7. b

    There's a thing called limitations. There are limitations as to how much can be adapted in an episode. These things about the HoT pots and Diabel's death were detailed in the novel, which has lots of words and time to explain things. Doing it in animated form is not an easy thing and will always make things not consistent and hard to understand. That's not bad writing, that's difference in medium of telling the story.
    And contrived and illogical you say? Then please tell me what is the logical and best way then to do this part. You seem to know what to do more than the studio. Please enlighten us.

  8. A

    I don't care about the limitations. It's either horribly written or it's not. And this is. The LN is even worse, from what I hear. Something about bath scenes and porn chapters.

    You realize that by blaming it on the difference of the medium, you are effectively saying that an anime can't be blamed for being contrived. Well, not contrived anime exist too, and some of them are even adapted from light novels. Do I really have to say this?

    How does my pointing out illogical storytelling make me a better screenwriter, exactly? The first one's called critique, the second… well, screenwriting. Don't confuse them.

  9. FWIW, I took the exact same reading as Belatkuro explains – he was naturally inclined to help, but Diabel was mortally wounded and knew he was a goner. So for me I don't find that "convenient" or "poorly written" as it quite naturally got the point across that it was supposed to.

  10. A

    Asuna was suicidal in the LN Chapter, while the entire Beater issue was very thoroughly explored. Forget about the "Bath Scene", that was just a minor detail.

    Start from that premise that Asuna was suicidal and read that conversation again, and it makes much more sense. THIS indeed is the reason why LN readers of the source story, Aria in the Starless Sky WANTED two episodes instead, else, you'd be leaving those big gaping gaps in the plot.

  11. b

    Was wondering why this post was late :/
    Anyways, I'm in the opposite side of the LN readers raging across the world wide web. I really liked this episode. Sure they did cram one volume's worth of material but they still got the main points delivered with the first boss battle, Kirito and Asuna's first meeting and Kirito being the Beater which will be a curse word now in SAO. The things removed or altered really won't affect much the story and will have just dragged the story after the strong start.
    Good to know that whatever people say about this, you can form your own opinions about it. Me is proud.
    Gonna need tissues for the next episode.

    inb4 LN readers rage in here too as well as Frodos asking left and right about stuff.

  12. g

    As a reader of the LN, I just have to say that I personally find the game itself is the best part of the story. Whether explanations of the game mechanics, seeing how the players interact and behave in the game, or the strategy and tactics used during the fights, these were the biggest parts of what made me enjoy the SAO series. So you cannot blame me for being a tad 'bit' disappointed when they 'simplified' the boss fight. What in the LN was an intricately planned and meticulously prepared operation designed to achieve victory whilst avoiding any casualties, but the anime unfortunately just skates over this part. They also failed to portray how dangerous the bosses new weapon and attack pattern was compared to the info the players had, and how Kirito formulated the strategy to counteract this different behavior of the boss monster.

  13. f

    If they included all that info, they would have to leave something else out and then you'd be complaining about that instead.

  14. M

    Having not read the LN I was wondering why this fight felt so "hollow".

    They tried to show some sort of planning (group A B attack X .. group F attack Y) but it was/felt irrelevant and shallow. They tried to show some drama but it also felt shallow/irrelevant (because the character that died was not well established) and then the boss twist also failed because in the end they just defeated him by doing the same thing they were doing to defeat the minions.

    I'm wondering at this point if reading the LN would help enjoying more the anime.

    What do you think gandalf8?

  15. A

    I can't see where all the criticism's coming from, to be honest. Maybe I've been shielded by not knowing anything about the franchise, but I thought the battle was both interesting and fun to watch without turning into a slog of tactics exposition, which I think is what the writers were going for. I find it interesting that if this fantasy were playing out in "real life" rather than a game environment, I wouldn't be nearly as invested in the mortality of the red shirts who composed the player alliance. The idea that when Diabel died, someone somewhere had their brain fried, is just as chilling as it was back when it was explained in the first episode.

    I can understand why Kirito would see Diabel as a hero even after learning about his ulterior motives. I mean, running in to snatch a bonus for himself was pretty low, particularly when people's lives are hanging on his leadership, but it's easy to forget that he's one of the few people who is actually doing something about the crisis rather than hanging back and waiting for someone to fix the problem for him. I'm in agreement about the health potion refusal though; it wasn't explained very well and the scene would have gone just as well without that added three seconds of unnecessary confusion.

  16. A

    Even so… Exact quote by Kirito:
    "But you never abandoned the other players."

    He literally just did.

  17. Too much love for a franchise leads to too much passion in response to the adaptation – the cycle repeats itself over and over in anime history. I'm going to try and steer clear as best I can, and it's certainly easier when I come into SAO fresh. But the hard part is keeping the comments section from turning into a haters vs. non-haters flame war.

    I have no problems with what Diabel did, TBH. Everyone else (including Kirito as far as I can tell) was seemingly just sitting around wanking and waiting to die, so at least he tried to use his expertise to try to form some sort of organization and get the survivors to the next floor. As I said – herding cats.

  18. A

    whats with the item that kirito got?

  19. H

    I think it was that black coat that he's wearing in the OP.

  20. I

    "Coat of Midnight", according to the katakana.

  21. S

    He also "equips" it at the end of the episode before going up the stairs.

  22. A

    I mean, why was it so important that the other beta tester was willing to risk his life just to get it? It was just a black coat. Or does it have special properties?

  23. A

    It's got good stats? I'm not sure it's even pre-determined what the monster drops. He just wanted the bonus item because it would help him in the future (armor helps you survive, obviously). The important thing is that he didn't think he was risking his life. He thought the fight was going smoothly and that this would be an easy victory. And then it turned out it wasn't because the weapon had changed.

  24. A

    yey. thanks for that.

  25. B

    I haven't read the LN's so for me this episode was fine. Maybe not quite as good as the first episode but Asuna's presence certainly helped. I don't think this show is top 3 for me this season but it's definitely one that I am enjoying and looking forward to every week.

    I did want to point out though, Enzo, that Diabel's gathering that he called didn't have so few people because of trust issues. It's mentioned in the episode though I guess you have to pay close attention to catch it. The reason the meeting has so few people is because a large portion of the people trapped in the game are hiding out in the newbie towns hoping that someone else will clear the game and save them all. It's not trust issues that cause a low turnout, it's fear/cowardice depending on how you want to brand it. Can't say I blame them much myself, clearing new content in MMO's usually means lots of death, and when death in game means death IRL, who wants to clear progression content?

  26. I think mistrust is a big part of that though. I mean – these people have no faith in Diabel's (or anyone else's) ability to actually lead a fight out of the game, so they choose to fly solo and hope for the best.

  27. A

    Most people aren't flying solo. Flying solo is just as suicidal as fighting the boss. Most people are hiding in town at level 1. The gathering is so small because no one else is high enough level to even participate.

  28. H

    Out of curiosity what exactly were the novel readers complaining about? The AS thread moves too fast for me to follow but from a non-reader (although I have read some of the manga which skips ahead to two years later near the end of the game, no idea what that makes me) the episode seemed well paced, introduced more characters naturally, and even if some mechanics weren't specifically explained it was enough to go on/I know I can find someone here/on RandomC/on Starcrossed in the comments willing to explain.
    Light novel fans are scary people….

  29. I don't want to paraphrase, so I won't try. The episode thread on AS would be a good place to one-stop shop for a sampling of criticisms.

  30. S

    @ Helen

    Various details were axed, which lead to, as you've probably seen, a flood of people raging at "plot holes" that weren't properly explained in the anime due to constraint. I think this is the largest complain from us LN readers.

    Some others complain about axing out minor scenes or characters although I personally find that irrelevant.

    Personally, my only problem is the seclusion of Asuna's initial suicidal behavior, which is supposed to add some depth to her isolation and her lines we hear in the several scenes in the anime. Without it, some of her behavior shown though out the episode feels slightly inconsistent/weird-paced.

    But since I don't see how this whole chapter can be split into two episodes without the first part being a "boring, dragging filler" which most generic audience hate so much, I'm pretty much with Enzo here, this episode has done its job well even with obvious budget constraints.

  31. A

    I agree with Seraf. There's no way this SS can be split into 2 episode without one of them being pretty dull. I'd imagine the highlight of the first part would be the bath scene which would just be an insultingly generic fanservice for normal viewers.
    What they did here was called "trimming the fat", which I am extremely grateful. I bet the next SS would also be 1 episode long. For God's sake, it has to be. Can you imagine waiting a whole week if they split it into 2 episodes? It'd kill the entire pace of the story, and the mood of that story is very important.

  32. U

    The conflict between beta testers and common players had potential to last longer before Diabel died. It was an interesting problem and it could lead to a riot if not immediately put under control. I hope this part of the plot is further explored in the following episodes, even though Diabel seemed like the center os the subplot.

    The subtlety of this episode really contributes for a sophisticated narrative. Light novel adaptations tend to be very wordy, and that makes them tiresome to watch. The players' reactions when Diabel attacked the boss alone, visually expressing that such action was not in the plans. Diabel's hopeless situation after he got hit, by rejecting Kirito's health potion. Kirito's attempt to take the blame all for himself and Asuna noticing it. On these scenes, Sword Art Online reminds me of Casshern SINS, an anime that heavily relied on visual language.

    The battle was entertaining as hell. Beautifully animated, good coreography and sense of momentum, specially during the last strike.

    So far, i am very pleased with Sword Art Online.

  33. A

    The original did make that conflict last longer – it's just that the adapters crammed the entire 100+page story into one 20 minute episode. I recommend you read Aria (the source story) to see this episode in it's full content. They axed huge things out – like the entire built-up of the Beta-ordinary players problems, and gives context to Diabel's actions.

  34. Z

    The main thing to remember when watching this is to not look for plot holes. Remember that a lot of things have deep reasons behind them, but the anime doesn't want to make long winded explanations of everything. Or to put it in another way. The anime doesn't want to waste time explaining all the 'why' things happens, so just accept that they do and keep watching or else read the novel to find out.

  35. S

    I believe that is the one big reason why LN readers are upset that details are left out (minus the personal appeal part), because of how the number of anime-only people start actively digging for plot-holes and bashing the show despite how all their questions were already answered.

  36. H

    I'm not an LN reader, but it really seemed to me that Kirito decided to be the lightning rod there in the tension between the beta testers and the others. Instead of letting it fester, he, and his awesome new cloak, stepped up, said "beta testers? pffsh! You guys are better than most of them, but I'm better than all of you." Having focused their ire on himself, he cut out most of the chance that they'd turn on each other. I don't think it was done out of any awkwardness, or not understanding the social conditions, rather I think it was done because he understood those conditions all too well, and didn't want to waste the effort Diabel had put in at getting the group to work together.

  37. I don't doubt that was part of his thinking, absolutely. But my take was that it was also partly that he's simply more comfortable solo than part of a group, so he didn't mind being the object of everyone's derision.

  38. F

    Yeah both those factors came into play when Kirito made his decision to play the bad guy. I was worried the anime adaptation wouldn't be able to get this across, but it seems like it worked out just fine.

    As an LN reader I'm a little disappointed they cut out a lot of the details, such as Asuna's initial suicidal grind, the Anneal Blade subplot, build up for the Beta vs Nonbeta players, etc. But I guess the most important points were conveyed. In the LN Kirito was also worried about some friends he new that were Beta players, which also factored into his decision to take on the role of a Beater, but it wasn't important in the long run.

    Still one reason LN readers like me don't like it when explanations are cut is because of the whining plot-hole searching viewers. For example, the LN explained that the real life bodies of the players would be taken care of. The Anime glossed over this, but CLEARLY implied it. However some viewers either didn't get it or ignored it out of willful ignorance and cried "LOL PLOTHOLE" even though it was obvious as heck. This leads to annoyed LN viewers then spelling it out for them, and then usually leads to them saying "LOL BAD WRITING SINCE IT NEEDS TO BE EXPLAINED" when really it doesn't. -_-

    There's an example of this a few comments above me too. Hahaha. It doesn't take much thought to come to the conclusion that Diable didn't take the potion because it wouldn't help, but he went "LOL NOPE PLOTHOLE!"

  39. A

    @FlameStrike. While I agree I would have liked to see Asuna's suicidal grind, the OP did hint at Asuna's early depression state, so it's likely they'll bring this up in later episodes.
    However, to include all the subplots is going to require a flood of expository dialogue: what's a safe zone? what's overkill? what's a +6 sword? what's enhancements? what's durability? what's stats? what's heal over time?
    You have to assume non-MMO players don't know any of these terms, and to explain it kind of takes it out of the world and the story. That's one of my main problems with Accel World. You never feel like you're part of the world because every episode they need to explain battle mechanics, weak points, resistance, etc. etc. It's not fun, and it feels like a chore. I'm glad they decided to give us the bare minimum information in Sword Art Online and instead focus their attention on the story.

  40. d

    @Enzo. The problem with this adaptation is that it is chronological. so some things are going to be weird. E.g. guild girl…. will be weird. should have done an OVA or something for it…

  41. A

    @All the LN apologizers.

    I get it. You read the LN when most people didn't. You remind us in nearly every paragraph, as if reading self-indulgent masturbatory light novels makes you an intellectual. And you liked it, for whatever reasons. But no one offered a critique. Of course they didn't. This also happens with most manga. Not many people read them, and the ones that do mostly just congratulate one another on the great find.

    Here's the catch. Everybody watches anime. There are many blogs and forums dedicated to anime debates. So now everything is out in the open. And you feel defensive. They ruined your party. I've seen it happen a thousand times.

    But let's get our facts straight.

    The anime should stand on its own. I shouldn't have to read the LN to get what's going on, and I won't read it because I fear the pages might be sticky.
    Nothing was obvious. Even if you're watching in good faith and realized that, yeah, that's what probably is going on, what I did as Anonymous before was point out the questions that could be arised from that scene with Diabel. They did. So they could. And it's contrived. And contrived equals not good. If you disagree, by all means, let's hear your points. Hint: "lolplothole" is not one.

    Some of you don't even realize what a plot hole is supposed to be! What Asuna said doesn't qualify as a plot hole. It qualifies as terrible pseudophilosophical writing, which in reality makes no sense even in the LN context you mentioned. This is a much bigger flaw than a simple plot hole.

    I hope the more polite of you don't get offended by my comment. I don't care about the rest who adopted a condescending tone, even though I enjoy the irony.

  42. A

    Lol so wait, did you enjoy the episode or didn't you? You just sound stupid for hating people who read

  43. E

    So true. A good director should make an anime which can stand strong by itself. BTW, I skipped my reading from book 1 to book 3 because book 2 seemed like just a bunch of side stroies. SO, I am really confused when that guy refused to take the health potion. Because as much as I can remember, people shattered very quickly when they have taken mortal wound? It's weird that he still have time to talk bullshit to Kirito?

  44. A

    I agree, the anime is terrible and often makes little sense. It should stand on its own and it doesn't. Isn't that what most LN fans are complaining about in the first place? What exactly is your point?

    You mention Asuna's dialog being an example of terrible writing despite the context, but you don't even know the context. People's sloppy explanations hardly do anything justice. Even if it is bad writing, and I won't say it wasn't, you don't know enough to know why it was bad writing since you don't know the first thing about Asuna's character. For all you know she's a pseudophilosophical kinda girl and she grows out of it over the course of the series.

    If you're asking us not to irrationally defend the anime based on elements it doesn't actually contain (which is fair, although I don't see it as defensive so much as complaining about how stupid the adaptation is), then it's only fair that you not judge the quality of the novels based on secondhand information that you lack the appropriate context for.

  45. A

    Don't forget that some people here blamed the viewers for not getting what they thought was obvious. Not everybody feels the adaptation is lackluster. My points are well defined, I think.

    You're right, she may be that kind of girl and the show may take that into account for her character.
    Like that other scene, when she didn't even know about the names below the health bars. It could only mean one of two things: either she's a complete idiot, which the show acknowledges and addresses in the future, or it's there for the… moe element I guess. Now, I don't know which of the two is true because I haven't read the novel. But judging from what I've seen these two episodes and what I've read about the novels (by people who like them, mind you), I've formed my opinions on which is right. I don't have evidence. It's the way the whole show feels for me. Over-exaggerated, melodramatic, self-indulgent, masturbatory, hacky hich concept crap is what I'm getting up to this point. Very anime-like.

    What I've seen for myself from the novels are the illustrations, many of which were vulgar and haremy (which is a way I think the show will go eventually, even though I have no hard evidence of it – it could all be just a coincidence), and the sex chapter, which is actual porn. Awful, disgusting and vulgar porn, too. I'm talking about the intent and thematic content, not the sexual content which is as vanilla as it gets.

    Even if I'm wrong about the novel, which again, I may very well be, that doesn't change the pseudointellectual attitude of many of its readers…

    As for the other discussion going on, if Kirito was only doing the human thing even while knowing the truth, why didn't the knight drink the potion? Why isn't that the human thing to do in that case? Is he less of a human?

  46. Why drink the potion when he knew it was useless? What if that potion would be the thing that saves Kirito's life later?

  47. A

    Using the same logic, why give him the potion when they both knew it was useless? That's what I'm trying to say. The whole thing is very convenient, any way you look at it.

    To answer my own question, the scene tried to generate drama in a very sloppy way is what I think happened.

  48. Not at all – it's behavior based on instinct, and it seems very understandable to me. Kirito doesn't want to believe it's hopeless – driven by emotion, he offers the potion. Diabel, realizing the truth, decides not to see it wasted on him. It felt quite natural to me.

    Honestly, I think there's some world-class nitpicking going on here. Is this what we have to look forward to for the next five and a half months?

  49. A

    All right. Kirito's behavior was based on instinct, as opposed to the guy that was ABOUT TO DIE. Three seconds later, Kirito becomes the dark knight. Why didn't he follow his instinct to fight the guys who wrongfully accused him, for example?

    You see where I'm getting at here? This scene wouldn't have played out in that weird sentimental way in ANY other case. It's just a contrivance.

    I don't think it's nitpicking. I think this is all very important for the identity of the anime. It's about characterization.

    I also think there is no way of being 100% sure on what the reality of the situation is. I stand by my case though.

  50. All I can say is, I took a completely different read on the situation. It made perfect sense to me – Kirito acted to try and save Diabel. Then he saw what was happening with the group, and decided to become the fall guy to spare them further chaos. And it didn't hurt that by nature he's happier alone, anyway.

    To be honest, I can't even say for sure that's what the writers were going for – I haven't read the LN. But if it is, and I got it, can it really be that hard? It's not like there's anything special about my perceptive abilities.

  51. A

    Here's the difference.

    I don't disagree that *that's* what happened, and *that's* the way we're meant to read it, in order for it to make sense. That is, if we establish, as we have on the comments, that Diabel was going to die anyway. There would be no way of *knowing* that, just by watching the anime.

    I just think the whole thing's contrived as hell.

  52. A

    @ Anonymous

    Wait… so you think escalating the conflict is a more reasonable instinct than keeping your mouth shut? That's not very helpful. At least wasting a potion on a dead person is "trying to help".

    And then you talk about characterization. Kirito is a loner freak, but clearly genuine by nature. He clearly respects Diabel's motive (minus the item bonus stealing part). He takes all the blame to keep the rest of the community from breaking apart. What part of the characterization here isn't clear?

    Sure it may not be the most realistic thing any sane person would do, but that's what makes up a story no?

  53. A

    Are you talking about Diabel's declining of the potion? I don't think it would be reasonable for him to take it, since he's going to die anyway, but Kirito giving it isn't more reasonable either. What I'm criticizing is the coincidence of one acting that way and the other acting another in order to create drama.
    Also, acting reasonable is the very definition of not acting on instinct.

    Why didn't the item stealing part work into his obituary is what I'd like to know. Random guess: because they wanted the death to feel heroic, when in fact it wasn't.

    I have no problem with Kirito taking the blame. It doesn't contradict anything established previously about him. Well, almost nothing was established for two episodes, so there's that.

  54. A

    >> because they wanted the death to feel heroic, when in fact it wasn't.

    You're right about this part. It wasn't. This is one part I agree that the anime editing didn't help. But I don't think many people even noticed it so it didn't bother me.

    As for the potion declining part, I think I'm just gonna drop the topic cuz we're just going in circles here. Each to their own interpretation and I will respect that. After all, the term "Your Mileage May Vary" doesn't exist for no reason.

  55. A

    "You're right, she may be that kind of girl and the show may take that into account for her character.
    Like that other scene, when she didn't even know about the names below the health bars. It could only mean one of two things: either she's a complete idiot, which the show acknowledges and addresses in the future, or it's there for the… moe element I guess."

    There are way more options than that, but I see you've decided to prejudge everything based on your limited knowledge. The book isn't exactly a masterpiece in the first place, and frankly I think the anime surgically removed everything interesting about it leaving only the most generic elements, but if you can't see any other way for Asuna's character to grow based on what we've seen then you're just being stubborn. What we've seen so far is someone who has no idea what's going on, doesn't believe that she can accomplish anything in this world, but still feels driven to do something, anything. Even if it's just dying on her own terms. Is that stupid of her? Yes, yes it is, but there's room to grow from there.

    Even if the anime doesn't take that route because it's bad.

  56. d

    I have to agree with you. Just because the medium is different is not an excuse. What would be good would be LoTR. Book to screen transistion left out many things but it was still great. If you cant do it, then either the director aint good enough, and it should not be created or just make it solely for the people who read the book. Dont try to play middle ground.

    I believe Enzo would agree on this point seeing how he was so against the novel material left out from the anime of Fate 0.

  57. d

    P.S. that is not to say i hate SAO. I dont love it though, maybe in the future?
    But even though some series left out key info that makes it hard for the non-informed watcher to realize, i still watch some of them. If they are REALLY good. And if kind souls help with the plot.

  58. I have no strong opinions in the novel material of F/Z being left out. Clearly mistakes were made in the order things were adapted (the two-episode side story) and they didn't do a good enough job making Kiritsugu and Kirei fully realized characters. I don't know if it was a case of omission or simply badly adapted sections of the material.

    My only strong opinion is this: an anime should stand on its own for people who haven't read the source material, whatever it is. My personal feeling is that it's virtually impossible to satisfy many fans of the source material because they'll resist any changes – this is a bigger issue with LNs than manga – and it' always necessary to make changes when going from a written source to an anime. The first responsibility of the anime team should be to make a good anime that captures the spirit of the material, and if that means making changes – make them. But if a new fan has to ask a veteran to explain something that happened, that's a failure on the part of the anime staff.

  59. E

    Liked. To anime only viewers:
    -Diabel looks like a fool who decided to die even though his sin is only one, that is a momentary greed to get the boss' item for himself.
    -Diabel looks like a fool who decided to die even though he can still be saved easily by drinking the potion.

    Of course, there's no way in hell we could know that:
    -He's in cohoort with Kibaou.
    -He tried to buy Kirito's sword.
    -He can no longer saved.
    -Kirito offered him a potion because it's a natural response for a human, even though he's a very smart gamer.

  60. This is a pet peeve: LN readers presuming to speak for non-LN readers. One word: don't. You don't even speak for other LN readers – you speak for yourself. Everyone has the same number of opinions: one. They count the same.

    That isn't how Diabel came off for me, a non-LN reader. It was perfectly obvious to me that he was a goner, and that's why he refused the potion. He came off as a guy who's main goal was to try and do something for the noobs, and get a little swag for himself in the process. In terms of the other details, if the anime decided not to include them I consider them irrelevant unless they cause a continuity error later.

  61. A

    While I agree on the part that an anime should stand on its own, I have to disagree the part where an anime fails its job to deliver if a new viewer has to ask too many questions. There is a fine line between looking for reasonable explanations and actively nitpicking for plot holes. There are many FAQs that are already answered from the anime itself either through small details or implications. And then we have a swarm asking "why the villain isn't caught already", "why the guy refused the potion / have time to talk when he's goner" is just like asking "why don't you just shoot the hero already", "why the guy isn't dead after getting shot multiple times" in an action film. This is fiction, you can't expect everything to be able to apply IRL at microscopic accuracy. Even classic literature has these so-called "plot holes", ye know.

  62. A

    Since LOTR was mentioned, we can apply that nitpicking logic to that too, Anon. Why didn't they just ride the griffins to Mordor? What didn't Boromir let them take out the arrows and receive first aid? I say "because he's about to do his last speech, stupid!" It's exactly the same here. Diabel is a self-professed Knight, so can you give the brother a break and let him have his speech? Sheesh…

  63. A

    Ehh, off topic, but Anon of July 17th-san, you might have mixed me up with another Anon (I'm not the one who brought up LOTR >_<)
    Unless you misread what I wrote, which I shall clarify.
    I was applying that nitpicking logic to say that, the whole Diabel vs the Potion debate is just as ridiculous as your LOTR scenarios!

  64. k

    I'd have to agree with GE here, where people seem to constantly want to enforce what -they- think the general populous of vieweres think.

    As with GE, regrading Diabel it made perfect sense in why both Kirito tried helping (out of instinct) and why he refused the drink/tried getting that last hit in.

    While most of my implicit understanding might come from a decade of playing MMOs (RO, TO, Rappelz, WoW, TERA, many, many more), I neither sae Diabel as a fool or an idiot. It was quite obvious -to me- that he had DoTs of some sort due to the fact his health wasn't instantly going down but rather gradually. With that sad, the rate at which it seemingly went down (based on the anime-only viewer) as GE said he was a goner. It was no contrived nor was it a plot-hole.

    While I agree it is unfortuante that some people didn't understand it, I believe that a large portion of anime watchers HAVE played an MMO in the past, at one point or another which leads credence to leaving out parts like equipment/repairs/enhancements/etc and allows the animators more freedom. And, this being an anime based on an "MMO Story/Game" I'm inclined to believe the target audience (in Japan) are those who were/are familiar with the MMO genre.

    Although, that can all be conjecture, but from a non-LN readers, MMO-playing, anime-watcher thats what it seems, and thus makes sense -to me-.

    As others have stated about AW and how the constant explanations take you out of the world, yeah they kinda kill the engrossment, which is why I much prefer how SAO handles the game immersion.

  65. A

    This is just my opinion, but I felt like SAO was always more about the setting than the characters. The author created an interesting game-world with it's own internal rules, and the story of being trapped in it led to an interesting culture among the players. To me, that's always been the point. The main character of SAO is Sword Art Online, the game. Obviously we're following Kirito's journey through the game (as well as Asuna), and they're reasonably compelling as characters, but they exist primarily to be a lens through which we can view the game and what it's like to be forced to live in it.

    In that sense, cutting out the little details makes the world seem extremely… empty. And flat. I mean, there's a plot and stuff so it's not like it's boring, but it lacks immersion. You don't understand exactly what it means to be Kirito.

    For example, just now we saw Kirito sacrifice his reputation to protect other beta testers. Regardless of whether or not you think this plot-point makes sense, the simple fact is that we don't know what it is he's sacrificing unless we know what it means to be a solo player. In response to another comment GE said that most of the players must be playing solo out of distrust of others, or something along those lines. If that's the case, Kirito's sacrifice means very little, and indeed GE seemed to think so as well in his main post. If we were given more detail on the game mechanics though ("switching" was briefly referred to) we'd know that solo play is incredibly dangerous and practically suicidal. Which also happens to be why only the explicitly suicidal Asuna and the socially-impaired Kirito failed to make a group in the beginning, since everyone else actively plays tends to stay in a group.

    I'm not saying it's impossible for the anime to make up for this in other ways, but I don't think it has yet. There's definitely such a thing as too much exposition, but there's also such a thing as too little, and this errs on too little in my opinion.

  66. K

    Great episode! I think I'm gonna love and enjoy this anime. 2 episodes down, more to go. 🙂

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