106; 12022 H.E.
“I like Sword Art Online” is something you would hear rarely if you ask someone about their opinions on it. It’s such a popular series, as of 12021, the series has 26 million copies in print.  However, it received some rather harsh united criticism from the Western audiences. Some of the top kitsu reviews include “Self-indulgent power fantasy about a soulless husk in black saving waifus from one-dimensional psychopaths.” and “Overrated, poorly written at times, and generic as it is, SAO gets more hate than it deserves.” (someone gets it). Contrary to the popular opinion, I loved the show.
The idea of fully inserting yourself and your senses into a game’s world is something I covered in Video games are kinda boring 🕹. I got inspired by that idea mainly from Sword Art Online (SAO). It develops further than Ready Player One, which still focuses on using physical haptics, janky suits, and needs for space, whereas I would like to see a development in technology that better understands the neural activity of our bodies. It of course may be years and decades away, it’s still good to dream big.
Funnily enough, my computer science senior design capstone, which is equivalent to an undergraduate thesis that you work on in order to graduate is based on SAO. I pitched it to my senior design team, “We need to improve the human-computer interaction by making interfaces with less friction.” We spoke and later worked with KU Neuroscience Department for us to better understand the recent advances in the field, as well learn all the basics, such as differences between EEGs, EMGs, data smoothing, etc. We spent around $5k to get armbands and eye trackers to work on creative HCI uses (gaming and productivity). Stay tuned for how that turns out.
Back to SAO. The plot and the main premise were something I could get behind. Players are stuck in a full-dive environment and anyone trying to disconnect or leave the game without clearing all of the game’s bosses will be instantly killed by an extreme current sent straight to the brain. In reality, this would be a tragedy, yet it explores a very interesting question, how would people act and behave in this situation? Especially the ones stuck in the infamous game now of Sword Art Online.
Many take issues with how the main protagonist, Kirito, was overpowered from the very beginning, making them feel it gets boring, especially with him later “collecting girls.” I can see how the show is a case of a classic power fantasy, fun (even silly) adventures, awkward situations, and lots of internal dialogues during fight scenes. I don’t know. I love this genre. It’s exactly what it advertises to be, straight to the formula, silly, and extremely fun to watch.
The whole reason I wanted to write this small blurb is to make a contrarian take that SAO is good, despite all of its “shounen” and power fantasy elements. No one would disagree that openings are absolute fire.
This summarizes my opinion of not only the first season (dope website), but the second one, alicization, underworld, ordinal scale, and gun gale spin-off. Sincerely liked all of them. I went to theaters to see Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Aria of the Starless Night. It was incredible. It’s a retelling, a full rewrite of the original Sword Art Online Aincrad arc. If the show never went past the first couple of bosses (they beat SAO through a “shortcut”), this one I believe wants to go through all 100 levels and clear the game the way it was intended to be. With one movie released a year, I hope I can live to see the end, as they only cleared the very first level by the movie’s finale.