At First Glance – Sword Art Online

Note: There are spoilers for the first episode of the anime in question in this article.
You have been warned.

Welcome back folks. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m back to doing these again. To keep it brief my attention was diverted elsewhere, and now it isn’t. Sorry for anyone who actually reads these things that my hiatus was longer than intended. As a quick reminder for those who are new or have forgotten, the idea of these “At First Glance” articles is that I watch the first episode of an anime I’ve never seen and give my thoughts on it.
Simple, right? With that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Sword Art Online

Ah yes, familiar territory. Well. In that this is one of those anime I’ve heard of, but honestly had no idea what it was about prior to watching it. Basic premise is that the hot new Virtual Reality MMORPG in town, the titular Sword Art Online, has finally been released, and players are eager to jump on and play. However, it turns out the log out feature isn’t present.

At first it’s assumed this is just a glitch or a bug. However, an avatar of the game’s creator informs the players that this was, in fact, always intended to be an aspect of the game. Basically, the game dev is insane and wanted to be a god over this world.

Not only is the creator of the game, Akihiko Kayaba, totally insane and wants to be a god of a virtual world, he also made it that if anyone’s virtual headsets are forcibly removed, or the people playing the game have their life bars drop to zero, they die in real-life. Their only method of escape being to finish the game.


“IF YOU DIE IN THE GAME, YOU DIE FOR REAL!”

Oh, as an added twist, player avatars are erased through some random mirror item he gives them all, and everyone suddenly looks like they do in real life instead. The result of which is a joke that I honestly got a laugh out of, despite the fact I know it would’ve made others groan.


“Son of a-you’re a guy?!”

“You’re not seventeen!”

Trust me when I tell you that could’ve been handled a lot worse. Hell, there’s a few movies that are evidence of that. Anyway, with this revelation our hero, Kirito, goes out of his way to charge on ahead to level up as quickly as he can so he can get out of the game. And that’s about all it gives us really, as far as plot goes. The only other character we get a chance to see properly for now is Klein. With the bulk of the episode before the big revelation being Kirito teaching Klein the ropes of the game.

It’s honestly a nice way to let us get to know a bit about both characters’ personalities. It honestly got the point that when Kirito goes off on his own, I was actually disappointed that Klein didn’t go with him. Though I like fact they do part on friendly terms. Hell, Kirito even seems a little down that Klein has friends to worry about and isn’t going with him. Hopefully that gets touched on in later episodes. I mean, they weren’t exactly subtle about it, so if it gets ignored I’ll be disappointed.

Oh. Also. The anime doesn’t have an opening. No joke. I thought there was just a cold opening before an intro, but it never happened. In fact, I’m fairly sure what ended up being the outro may even be the intro for the following episodes.

So, did I enjoy SAO’s first episode enough to keep watching? Thankfully yes. The premise definitely has me hooked enough to keep watching. Though one thing I do recall hearing about SAO is that the first season is good, but the second is iffy. Whether I’ll agree with that is beyond me at this point, but who knows.

For those who care, Sword Art Online consists of 49 episodes over two seasons (25 in season one and 24 in season two) and is available in both subbed and dubbed formats. There’s also a TV movie, “Sword Art Online: Extra Edition”, and a film, “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale”. Aside from that there are also five video games based on the franchise. Normally I wouldn’t bother to mention that, but the meta nature of video games based on a property that revolves around the characters being in a video game world is hilarious to me.

Well, that about covers it. If anyone has any suggestions for anime I should watch for this in the future, give me a shout and I’ll put it on my list. If it’s already on my list, I’ll bump it up in priority. However, if I’ve already watched it then I’m obviously going to have to decline.
I’ll see you next time folks.