That’s me walking away in disappointment
…. ahhh goddamn it. A-1 ruined Aria in the Starless Night. Fuck them.
To be objective, the episode was probably pretty good for people who didn’t read the light novels and only cared about the action scenes. Because it seems that’s what the production committee decided to do. Hell, I will admit, the final attack part by Kirito and Asuna was impressive as fuck, and I shed a few tears just watching that part because of how touching it was, especially when Egil leaped in to tank Kirito and Asuna for a bit.
FUCK YEAH EGIL!
Plus the music being epic as fuck helped a lot too. If there’s anything, the soundtrack for Sword Art Online is already a must-get for me.
The boss battle was definitely the highlight of the episode but unfortunately, that’s the only good thing I could say about it. Now, if you’re not a LN reader or don’t give a fuck about me ranting, feel free to stop reading here and do something a lot more productive.
Like maybe reading the novels (B-T) so you can understand Asuna’s giggle here
First off… they cut off everything that made Aria awesome in the anime. Mainly Kirito’s first meeting with Asuna in the 18th floor dungeon (for reference, boss room is Floor 20) and the depiction of how her character was a lot less… “sunshine”-y. Aria was awesome for both giving us a proper first meeting story of Kirito and Asuna as well as giving us a good reason of how Asuna came to be and why you can see she genuinely fell in love with Kirito (later in the story).
Yes they kept the cream-on-bread scene and Asuna’s trademark line, but dammit, it still loses the nuance totally. I know they can’t possibly put in all that stuff in anime but putting a 100-over page worth of material in a single episode was a horrible horrible idea. Now people who don’t read the LN’s won’t know about Asuna’s crazy suicidal grinding, Kirito’s awesome room and the bath scene. Oh god the bath scene. Also, SAO is Asuna’s first non-mobile game she played, which explains her unfamiliarity with the GUI in the show. Can’t believe they left that out too.
Next, thanks to the episode NOT including important stuff about the SAO system, I’m sure anime-only viewers are going to see Kirito being an asshat after going all the way to insult everyone after killing the boss and taking the last hit bonus. To understand why he did that here’s a few things you need to know:
- SAO has free for all PvP everywhere that’s not a town area.
- Diabel and Kibaou were in cahoots with each other all the time (anime seemed to have made them good friends AFTER the meeting)
- Diabel intentionally stirred up the New vs Beta conflict in order to screw over Kirito, which he already knew was a pretty great beta player.
- Not all the beta testers were actually crazy pro hardcore players like Kirito, in fact beta tester death rate after the first month was HIGHER than the new players.
- SAO, being a death game, requires pretty much a lot of people to work together to beat each floor’s boss.
- Beta players only got to like Floor 8, so they really don’t have THAT much of an advantage after the first 10 floors
This just sounds a lot worse than it is.
So, Kirito in essence took over the “blame” the new players wanted to lay on the “beta testers” in order to try and keep the peace between both factions. If a PvP war broke out between the two sides, it would essentially be self-destructive and would’ve prolonged the game even more. Yes, it’s probably not the best move ever, but Kirito’s thinking at that point was that he was going to be a Solo player for the rest of the game anyways, so he didn’t mind being ostracised if it meant the other players could cooperate together. I really hated how the production committee decided to not include all this little details that actually goes in a long way to explain the reasoning behind Kirito’s actions.
He got that coming, seriously.
In fact, from my point of view, Diabel’s actually the more devious one since he was aiming for that last hit bonus all along despite presenting that façade of “let’s all work together” bla bla bla. In the original material he even went to a the extremes of trying to buy over Kirito’s sword (which was pretty much the strongest weapon on Floor 1) to prevent him from getting the “last hit”. Evidently, that didn’t work out too well.
Thirdly, while I said the boss battle was awesome, I still didn’t like the way they rushed through it without explaining some of the basic fighting concepts in SAO properly. For example, the “Switch” technique is a unique thing developed in SAO in order to increase player survival rate during PvE, by having people take turns in engaging the monster. Well, MMO vets probably will get the idea already, but for the layperson it must seem pretty confusing at first.
Note how both Kirito and the boss are ‘stunned’ after they block each other’s attacks, allowing Asuna to attack
Switch is also pretty important as there’s actually a cooldown for skill usage plus monsters are able to inflict status effects like “stun” in battle so usually one person would engage first then switch after taking/blocking a hit from the enemy while their team mate deals damage using their sword skills. Also, monster AI in SAO is surprisingly simple and doesn’t react too well with sudden player changes so there is a little window of opportunity when they “switch” to deal a good amount of damage. This is absolutely essential in boss fights.
Proper application of “switch” resulting in a nice combo attack.
I still have a lot of complaints about how they handled Aria, like cutting out Argo, but those are pretty minor compared to the ones I found most glaringly ruining the experience of watching SAO animated. To reiterate, this episode was actually rather decent enough, but as a LN reader, I’m sorry this is just horrible.
To rub it in, it seems that the next episode is going to be Red-Nosed Reindeer which means a straight jump to Floor 43 unless they uh… rewrite it too. No preview yet on the official site, but I think they are going to be probably stuffing that in one episode as well. Not as bad as it would seem actually, but I’ll reserve judgement for now.