「圏内事件」 (Kennai Jiken)
“A Crime Within the Walls”
If there’s one thing you don’t see very often in an MMO, it’s a murder mystery. That’s mostly because murder is never really a big deal in an MMO after all – sure PKing is often frowned upon, but unless you’re playing a game like EVE Online, it’s relatively rare that anyone will go to great lengths to solve such a case (not that it’s actually hard to solve in the first place). But a murder mystery is exactly what we get this week, focused around a guild going by the name of ‘Golden Apple‘ and their quarrels over a rare item drop.
In typical fashion, Kawahara picks up yet another common issue which permeates nearly all MMORPGs and uses it as a plot point in SAO. It’s certainly not uncommon to see immense drama caused by rare item drops with superior stats or high monetary value. Golden Apple would not be the first guild to break up over such an occurrence either. The voting may have seemed civil on the surface, but rare items do funny things to a player – sometimes even the most respectable person will ruin their reputation by sneakily making off with an item if they’ve been seeking it long or hard enough. Of course, this sort of murder mystery could only arise under the conditions of a game like SAO – a game which, to some of the players, may still seem like a game despite the threat of death looming over them. In a sense, even knowing the consequences, killing a player in-game could still feel far less real than performing an actual murder, despite amounting to exactly the same thing.
As in any murder case, we have our victims, our suspect, and plenty of panic. Normally it would be right to wonder why apparently competent fighters such as Yoruko (Yamamoto Nozomi) and Schmit (Katou Masayuki), a Holy Dragon Alliance tank, would be afraid of being PKed, particularly given that the latter is a clearer (one of those who actually fight on the front lines and are amongst the highest level players) and generally surrounded by guild members. However, given that these murders take place in safe zones – places in which killing should not be possible except in a duel gone wrong – there’s no longer any guarantee of safety. If such fundamental rules can be broken, what’s to say that any rule holds true? What’s to say that levels even matter? Doors which protect you from all intruders at night might not even be viable anymore, leaving you with no safe place to sleep! That’s not to discount any of the other things to worry about either, like why these killings are happening six months after the guild disbanded, or why the killer isn’t immediately apparent.
Having mentioned the topic of distinguishing reality from the game in some form earlier, it makes sense to talk a little about the differences in Kirito and Asuna’s characters. It actually seems apparent at this point that Kirito may be having some difficulty telling apart what’s real and what’s not. Case in point, the NPCs. Asuna on the other hand is much more of a realist – she understands that the NPCs are not truly alive, despite how lifelike their programming may make them seem. The only reason for which Kirito could possibly care about the wellbeing of the NPCs would be if he had begun to see Sword Art Online as reality. If the safest way to kill a boss monster – the way which results in the least player casualties – involves sacrificing non-living AI beings that respawn after a set time, then that option makes logical sense does it not? I’m completely with Asuna on this one.
But that’s not to say that Kirito’s mentality is entirely wrong either. It’s hard to pick a side in the clash between Kirito and Asuna’s vastly differing mentalities. They’re both right in different ways. On the one hand, even if the world isn’t actually real, you should still take the time to find what pleasures you can, especially when death looms around every corner. If it’s a beautiful day that only comes once every year, simulated or no, why not take the time out to enjoy it? The refreshing break from grinding and killing could even prove beneficial in the long run. But at the same time, their ultimate aim is to clear the game in order to save everyone, so that time out is one extra day that everyone else is forced to suffer.
Unlike many other readers of the Light Novel, I was not left unsatisfied by the interaction between Asuna and Kirito in the second episode. Why exactly? Because for me, that was never the important meeting between the two. The romantic in me was always much more interested in the meeting under the tree which the novels originally implied to be the most important of their early interactions. And I felt it was perfect. A-1’s portrayal of it, combined with the choice of music from Kajiura Yuki more than realised the hopes I had for the scene. Asuna fans should be pretty glad too!
tl;dr: @MoombaDS – A murder mystery? In an MMORPG? Not something you see every day! #SAO
- What is it with using the word ‘guilty’ in names exactly? Relevance aside, it seems to be one of those typically overused words like ‘raven’ or ‘black’ or ‘dark.’
- A-1 Pictures gives us some shots from rather interesting angles! Last week too!
- I’m certain a lot of people will be glad to see this side-story split into two episodes rather than compressed into one.
- Although… I’ll admit to a morbid curiosity as to how they would actually cut it down to squeeze it into a single episode!