An Oasis of Thoughts

RANT: Why the Sword Art Online Anime Fails Miserably


>MFW writing this post.

Now, I was going to title this “Why Sword Art Online Sucks Horribly” but I feel this is a really botched adaptation and I’m not even a light novel reader! Honestly, I don’t think I’ve been more disappointed with a show as much as I have with Sword Art Online and I’ll tell you why. This wasn’t supposed to be the first rant post, but it really earned the honor of being it.

Mitsuru couldn’t summon her Persona in time..

Whoever thought starting off with SEVEN side story episodes was a good idea needs to be fired, ASAP. Whether it was the director or the scriptwriter or whoever, that was honestly the major reason why I’m dropping this and probably going back to Accel World, aka Guilty Crown-lite. Look, I really love side story episodes: they enhance the plot, they’re usually great for developing characters and they’re handled well. Sword Art Online fails at all three of these basic requirements, so let’s start with the first point:

  • Enhances the plot

Pretty hard to enhance something that isn’t there. Side story episodes should (and after SAO, they MUST) take place after the characters have all been introduced. Trying to tell a story like this is the equivalent of willingly walking into a room of hot lava. There’s going to be a discontinuity in terms of events and dates. The first seven episodes skip around A LOT of important events and expects us to understand a lot of the character’s motivations this early in the series.I’m pretty sure an anime adaptation should be accessible to all who haven’t seen the original source material. Plus, these episodes are so noticeably rushed as hell that you don’t have to be a light novel reader to notice it. Onto point #2:

  • Developing characters

Seven episodes in and all I’ve been given by this anime so far is that there’s this really COOL dude named Kirito who wears lots of depressingly dark clothing, and along the way he picks up girls like they’re fucking Pokemon. I’m supposed to be like “AWW YEAH YOUR SO DAMN COOL KIRITO” when he pointed that blade to Mitsuru Kirijo Rosalia a few episodes back. Thing is, I hardly know anything about this dude. I know from LN readers that he’s this really badass character but all I’ve seen of him so far is the amount of members he adds to his harem. Obvious girlfriend? check. Doomed by canon character who sings merry christmas? check. Dragon tamer loli? check. Blacksmith? check. I’m sure some of these girls will play an important role later and I do have confidence in the LN readers that Kirito is a badass, but the anime isn’t convincing me at all. Finally point #3:

  • Handled well?

Yeah, no.

Overall, I’m sure Sword Art Online is a really great light novel series but this isn’t a post about how great that is, this is about how awful the anime is and why I feel sorry for the creator for having his words (Accel World included) being crapped on by inexperienced staff. There are times when I really want the original fans to just stop nitpicking about everything, but in SAO’s case I honestly agree with everything they’re saying: this is really one of the worst adaptations I’ve seen and for me to notice flaws when I don’t even know what the hell is going on is a testament to how awful this anime is and I feel that SAO pretty much is the poster child for Summer 2012, one of the weakest seasons I’ve ever seen and I’ve been watching anime since 2006 mind you. . I’m already worried about Robotics;Notes in the fall…
I was going to make this longer but it’d probably turn into an even bigger rant. Well, hate away~~

TL;DR – Never start a series with side stories, EVER.


23 thoughts on “RANT: Why the Sword Art Online Anime Fails Miserably

  1. I think that the writers of the tv series had a difficult conundrum. If you go by the novel, then you have to jump straight from Floor 1 to Floor 74 and go to from there to the end of the game. Then you’ll have to insert these side stories that happened way before the game was cleared. It seems to me like something that could work in a novel but doesn’t work well on tv. I think that they made the correct choice in going by chronological order.

    • I think that the writers of the tv series had problems in general – a damn lot of them – because this anime downright insults the novel.
      I had to agree that the pacing was messed up because of their persistence to keep it true to the novel, which showed progression only at various points on the timeline and did not show the full spectrum. I realized this when the anime was announced and worried about how good it would be.

      It’s not very good, is it?

      I wish prepubescent fans would stop recommending this show to non-anime fans, it’s not doing any good for the reputation of anime. And there’s just so much I could pour into why this anime is just such a failure in adaptation, starting with the anime opening.
      Just…. disappointment.

  2. (grin)

    First, I do agree with your point about lack of character development – we get to see Kirito do some cool stuff but we don’t know much about him yet. Actually, episode 7 did give us some more (much needed) insight into his thinking. And I’m a little annoyed at him collecting girls with nearly every episode.

    Having said that, I actually have a high tolerance for the issue you have regarding the structure of the story-board. I grew up reading compilations of old pulp fiction short stories, things like anything (anything) written by Robert E. Howard (and Conan was not his best stuff, nor sword and sorcery his only genre) or the collaborative works such as Tales of the Vulgar Unicorn. Rarely were any of these types of stories even intended to be chronological or in particular, even connected. In many ways, they reflected the way an old man might tell stories of his misspent youth to his grandkids. In short, the current storyboard of SOA is just not an issue for me. It’s a style of story telling I’m comfortable with.

    Overall, I’m enjoying SOA. I go into each episode not expecting anything in particular, and mostly I find it fun to watch. Is it my best show this season? No, I have at least 3 other shows I rate higher this season.

    • Your points are valid, rather it’s just how it’s being laid out that frustrates me. I would be happy if the first two episodes were plot related and then go to side stories, but starting off completely in side stories just doesn’t work for this show, but I do think SAO’s approach can work but this isn’t the show that should be going out of order.

  3. yeah man I totally agree with everything you said. SAO is the worst anime ever made. First of all, i had this feeling that I had watch it somewhere someplace some time before while watching the first fucking episode. I hardly finish the first episode and needed to drop it in the middle. Nice point though, TOTALLY WORTH READING!

  4. I agree! SAO sucks my hairy ass like hell. I’ve watched some pretty crappy animes but this one takes the cake. Oddly I still watched it to episode 14 which at least seems like an ending of some sorts. Maybe it’s a case of So Bad It’s Good or something, I don’t know.

    • No, Guilty Crown was “so bad it’s good”. SAO is just plain damn awful. I’d gladly watch 22 episodes of Ouma Shu changing his personality every episode than watch Kiribland and his even more offensive band of haremettes.

      • At least Guilty Crown looked like a lot of money and time was put into it. And its ending invoked emotion. I can’t say the same about SAO.

        Did you notice the generic quality of the armor that everyone other than the main characters had, in what is supposed to be an ideal perfect-and-beautiful-scenery live-in-an-RPG-forever made-by-a-passionate-genius fantasy world? I can’t bear watching the gray polyhedrons on “level 50’s” anymore.

  5. I loved 1-10 Episodes, it was full of action, fighting and killing… And then it suddenly turned in disgusting lovey dovey show…

    • That would be the anime adaptators without any knowledge of mood, theme or pacing. It’s not supposed to be centered on action or romance.

  6. OMG YES!! I mean the newest episode, which I skimmed through because my brother was watching it, I saw Kirito using the system codes for the new game in place of SAO itself, I will say something about that later, but why in the hell would a normal user be able to use the system codes with such a dangerous item like the Nervegear they have, which could fry your brain if the SYSTEM demands it. So now about changing the game from SAO to that… stupid Alf…whatever online… Why did they change it? It could have been a short anime, but IT WOULD HAVE BEEN FINE STOPPING AT THE END OF SAO (the game). It was good AT THE BEGINNING but it failed from time to time and I still had hope for it (but it failed). Now about minor fails within the anime, Kirito goes against logic of the game world, example: (not sure what is a common game we would all know but…) if I get shot a few times in Modern Warfare (anyone I don’t care and don’t even like the game that much) and my hp goes so low that I die, I die. Kirito’s hp bar reaches zero and he lives. “What the fuck?” Also, Asuna heals Kirito with a blue “teleportation crystal” when he shold have died when he was fighting with Asuna’s guild guard, since she was the V.C. (Vice Captain) of her guild. Now, about the second half of the anime in that “other game”… 20 minutes is how much your flying stamina (this one can be discarded I think…), so how can’t they reach the top of the tree to where Asuna is? Does it take 21 minutes to get up there? Anyways, this is all I saw that made SAO a big fail of an anime. I just don’t see what else is so good about it. Is it the fact that Kirito gets to keep his stats from SAO into the new game…? Oops, another fault. But I guess it’s because SAO was directly related with that new game so his stats were kept, but I’m certain that the guy would be smart enough to do a system wipe… But guess not. Also his character sucked. And Kirito defies logic of a written script. Sorry SAO lovers, but you simply like SAO because all the harem, onii-con, and action (which are the ONLY points of watching SAO)… Well, in my opinion at least.

    Some up sides to the anime is that it has great animation, decent storyline (it was good to a point in the story… Yes, the new game is what seriously killed it…), the fight were a good addition (about 85% of all the fights were good).

    • The major consensus is the second story line (ALO) sucked major balls. Whew, I’m glad I jumped ship early.

      • Really, the ALO arc in the light novel was SAO’s author’s way of declaring that “the show will go on.” He made a sequel to declare that there would be more sequels. And he did this for good reason – he didn’t let Kirito and co. rest in peace for this ONE GOOD REASON that he has been embracing for the entirety of the first novel – that Sword Art Online’s purpose is to embrace the idea of “living in an RPG.”
        (The anime adaptators obviously did not capture this idea.)
        And while we’re on the anime adaptators, it was a really bad move to adapt ALO. Considering it’s original purpose on the light novel’s timeline. Now it just looks like a really bad side arc squeezed in at the end to hang on for 10 episodes longer.
        Really, a better choice would have been to a) do only the 1st arc, or b) do the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd arc, which is Gun Gale Online. If GGO was also adapted, it would better display that Kirito’s adventure does not just stop at SAO. And it doesn’t; he even gets a job later in the light novel. But that just exemplifies how stupid it was to adapt just ALO, right?
        I don’t know how well I’m making my point here, but basically, ALO is seen as useless baggage, and it wasn’t in the original light novel.

  7. well im gonna post here what i didnt like about the anime ( or the entire story whatsoever)
    first- i thought that with a system that allows you to die in real life,there would be a lot of pk… but NO there was a pk guild but they didnt have too much importance, almost felt like they were there just to say that there are player killers…
    second-im gonna tell you i dont like harem…
    third-plot isnt that original i already saw this thing about dying in a game many times…
    list- hunter x hunter, digimon well if you guys dont know you CAN die in digimon and matrix its not really a game but they DO go to a virtual world and they have those things plugged in behind their necks… if they take too much damage… boom they die, if someone plugs them out of that chair thingy… boom they have a high chance of dying…
    fourth-kirito saying im a solo player and bla bla bla (more than 50 % of the mmo players ARE solo players…)i have 7 friends which i play mmo but we only play together for the first 2 hours after that we spread out and become lonely solo players… so 7 out of 7 players that plays solo IS a lot… nothing to be proud about lol
    fifth- unnecessary drama like when that guild was having some kind of conflict over a rare drop or something…. i think everyone agrees with me here, it doesnt matter if you got help from your friends if you get the drop, its yours and YOU decide what to do with it… you dont have the obligation to put in the guild bank or something…
    sixth – noob players… like seriously? i never saw people dying to regular mobs in a mmorpg… so why are people even dying there? when theyre not even fighting against bosses…. damn…
    seventh- girls dont do SHIT, i thought asuna would be like erza from fairy tail you know,BUT after 5-6 episodes she was the same as hinata and orihime,she only knows how to say the main character’s name that ends with kun (kirito kun naruto kun kurosaki kun) thats annoying and its getting old…
    eighth – most important reason here i DONT care if its a short anime, the joy of playing a mmorpg is to see your character growing and getting stronger little by little. kirito started as a lvl 10 but after 2-3 episodes he was already around lvl 70 and 5-6 episodes after he was almost max lvl… its like watching a walkthrough and most of the things the player did was offscreen… its stupid…
    ninth – fight scenes. they are good but too short
    tenth- kirito appears to have an advantage over other players in sao he was overleveled and only fought agains players who were 10-20 or even more lvls below him…
    when he was playing alfhein ( is that right?) he had his skills from SAO ( WTF?) so he isnt actually that strong… he is just another kid with the noob tube

    thats pretty much about it… but its a decent anime go check it out… if youre reading this and still havent watched it ….

  8. I don’t agree with you guys badmouthing SAO >_>…And I could say so many more things but I don’t feel like sayin
    P.S. grow a heart and watch SAO take into considering the circumstances

  9. “Whoever thought starting off with SEVEN side story episodes was a good idea needs to be fired, ASAP.”
    I’ve found my soulmate.

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