For the record, I initially did have some inklings of what could be considered interest in this show. Sadly that interest lasted for two episodes before I dropped it from my to-watch list this anime season. So why am I coming back to it? Well, I’d say it’s because it’s like one of those abusive relationships where I keep coming back to it no matter how badly it treats me, but the answer’s far less interesting. Curse you, AniRev staff for making me keep up with this show!
Exposition via news reporter? A rather simple means to start explaining where this videogame stands in the world it’s setting up. At least it wasn’t as shove-down-your-throat-ey as the Hunger Games announcers in the movie.
Why is anything tech related in anime look like something out of a Murakami animation (doesn’t help that the title card reminds me of another tech-based anime)? Vast white empty spaces have to be considered O.G. by now, right? I mean at least think of something else to find synonymous with technology like—
—hexagons? This is probably at least the third anime I’ve seen within the last two or so years that used hexagons as part of some kind of technological aesthetic. Ano Natsu, Guilty Crown… basically anything with robots or futuristic technology of any sort. I wouldn’t say I mind right now, but gimme another year and I’ll probably throw a Wiimote at the screen the next time I see a hexagon.
So after the briefest of glimpses at the real world, the protagonist straps on his helmet and enters Sword Art Online—a super popular MMO. I’d make some kind of comparison to World of Warcraft or League of Legends or some other game I don’t care about but I honestly wouldn’t even know if my comparison would be accurate or not. Newfangled vidya games are so foreign to me…
Anyways, exposition within the world continues with the protagonist showing the ropes to a newbie player… which I doubt would ever happen in an actual MMO, but then again I wouldn’t know. Pretty basic story-telling setup here a la having a Gus Griswald-type character to give an excuse for explaining things for the viewer. Not the best, but not the worst either.
So after a bromantic exchange of lines, we find that some kind of bug is preventing people from logging out. All other possibilities of escape are periodically marked as impossible by the protagonist. While it does make sense to go through any possible options when in a pickle, this scene started to lean a bit towards Death Note levels of overly explained for the sole purpose to further bringing home the fact that you can’t log out.
Speaking of massive amounts of text, all players are then transported to the same location in-game, where the game developer/god complex guy Akihiko (sadly, not of the senpai variety) bad-guy monologues about how he rigged the lack of a log out option on purpose and how people will die in real life if they die in his world with the only way out being to beat the game. So like Jumanji without Robin Williams and the CG is a slight step up from the mid-90s.
But the real kicker: the players are expected to do that all while looking like their real world counterparts… again further explained with massive amounts of dialogue.
Now I get that this is the first episode and time needs to be given for explanations, especially when it comes to works of fiction, so I’m willing to let it slide. And honestly, I’ve gone through things like Death Note and Bakemonogatari where massive amounts of texts were a staple for the show, and I actually enjoyed them for the most part. Really, it’s more the fact that I lost interest in the show halfway through episode two that’s the real kicker.
Episode one, though: solid enough. And with a list second plot twist, too. Hopefully my attention span will remain consistent enough through the rest of this series.