「黒と白の剣舞」 (Kuro to Shiro no Kenbu)
“The Sword Dance of White and Black”

There’s something rather meta about blogging SAO while playing Guild Wars 2. It’s rather an odd feeling to – oh god they’re at the gates again – uh… anyway, where was I? Oh, it’s rather an odd feeling to be writing impressions about a story set within an MMO while playing one at the same time. All MMOs share core similarities, – I think I’ve been over this at least once before – which extend not only to the systems but also to the players themselves. Kuradeel (Yusa Kouji) – who looks a lot uglier (and a bit older) than I always imagined (though I think this look does him justice) – is a type of player who is not entirely uncommon. In fact, he’s a type of person who is not particularly rare either (especially not in anime). That guy who hangs around the cute girl – whether because he was ordered to as protection or just because he chooses to, – likely has feelings for her, and is eventually cast aside without a second thought… I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve seen it both in and outside of fiction. He’s that sort of slimy character who’s incredibly vain despite not being particularly attractive (his sword broke because it was more a vanity piece than for practicality. Actually, Kirito could be argued to use a lot of vanity items – just look at the variations of black trenchcoats he wears – but he has the benefit of being the MC so they ‘just happen’ to come with uber stats. Funny how that works huh?) and you just know that he’s not the type who will let that sort of insult go.

Super rare pop monsters are another staple of most great MMOs – there’s that rush that comes from lurking in an area where one will spawn (usually referred to as ‘camping’), killing it, and hoping for an awesome drop. Especially with those ridiculously rare, long respawn-timer types such as the Ragout Rabbit. I’m actually a little surprised that no-one else was camping him given how much the meat is worth and the ease of the kill. Or perhaps there was someone hiding behind the scenes watching in horror as Kirito appeared from nowhere at just the right time to steal his prize. Who knows! It happens. Had I been in Kirito’s shoes, I would almost certainly have elected to sell the meat – even if you seem to be set financially, you never know when you might need those extra funds. Heck, he could probably have bought a house just like Asuna’s with it!

However, choosing not to sell the meat gives us the perfect opportunity to spend some time with the ever-adorable Asuna. Her many reactions are priceless, just as Liz’s were last week! On top of that, the cooking scene was handled far better than the blacksmithing scene in the previous episode – this is what I would’ve liked to have seen done. Instead of having her moon over feelings, we actually get to hear some of Asuna’s thoughts on the process – how she considers it ‘oversimplified’ and ‘boring’ compared to cooking in the real world. It tells us a lot about her character – that while she loves cooking for the joy and the flavours it brings, she also enjoys the work that goes into preparing the food – she doesn’t skimp on hard labour. Strong, independent, skilled at cooking, more than capable of gutting you if you look at her the wrong way… she’s the perfect waifu!

I feel no surprise to hear that more and more players are losing the heart to fight as clearers. Two years is a long time and spending so much time with such intense immersion, it would be pretty hard to deny how ‘real’ the world may seem just as you cannot say with any true certainty that the ‘Matrix Theory’ is completely false. They might remember the world before, but it may have become a distant memory. For many, this reality could even be preferable – gaming (particularly MMOs and even more so with VR) is often associated with escapism, so after the initial shock, people could plausibly grow to legitimately like this new reality of theirs. Naturally, players dedicated to clearing still exist (a whole five hundred of them), but I wonder how many among that number are doing it entirely for the thrill of combat rather than the eventual possibility of clearing the game and setting everyone free.

To close, I want to ask a question. Those who are familiar with only the anime (i.e. have not read any of the light novels or manga whatsoever) – how would you feel if after episode one, the story had skipped straight to this point in time, completely bypassing the side stories (episodes two through seven)? Just a passing curiosity since that was how it was delivered in the light novels. I’d like to see how people who aren’t readers of the light novel feel about how the series has been structured so far.

tl;dr: @MoombaDS – We’re kicking off the main storyline with a bang this week! Lots of pretty cool action and some adorable Asuna! #SAO

Random thoughts:

  • That’s a lot of meat from a small animal! Well I guess it’s no less strange than the termite that dropped a greatsword for me earlier today!
  • Archer would undoubtedly approve.
  • Kirito claims to believe that other party members would hold him back – it’s actually hard to say whether these are his true feelings on the subject or if it’s just something he uses as an excuse to avoid another Sachi situation. Alternatively, it could be a bit of both – it might have started as the latter, with the continued pretence eventually becoming a truth to him.
  • I have always wanted to be able to do this. With pens though. Knives might be a bit risky. Never quite managed to get the hang of it unfortunately.
  • Why would you hesitate? Ever? I mean like really?
  • And thus, after surviving for two years as a front-line clearer, Kirito died, slain by an angry girl. There’s a lesson here folks.

Full-length images: 05, 28, 30.



End Card


    1. If the story had proceeded directly here, Kirito would appear to be more of your standard aloof protagonist, without all the heavy emotional baggage.

      I personally liked the way the anime ordered things chronologically. Even though it diverts some of its focus on the side characters, it allows for more character development.

      1. As another who’s not read the source, I agree that this start made for better character development. Plus, a 2 year timeskip without any idea of what happened in between is a bit jarring, especially since we know that stuff happened in between.

      2. You´re completely right, the main attraction in Sword Art Online is the magistral development and interactions of the characters, mainly the relationship of Kirito and Asuna. Kirito is no push over and has certain awareness of his feelings and Asuna takes the lead in a way that our protagonist can´t hardly misinterpreted, God bless that girl.

      3. I also like the chronological order the anime presents, not really for the side characters, because they often don’t recur in other episodes, but rather for Kirito and Asuna’s as individuals and with each other. I know SAO is not really a romance anime, but I really feel a good chemistry between those two characters, and I feel it’s such a needed part to Kirito’s growth to overcome his solitude and past trauma. If we skipped all those side stories, I would’ve found the relationship development very jarring. With the side stories, their relationship felt like it grew organically, allowing the both of them to share with each other their outlook on life, that, I have to admit, Kirito seems to say the right things when it counts. If Kirito was simply portrayed as a badass swordsman without any Achilles’ heel, I probably wouldn’t feel much for him as a hero. Yeah, I know that weakness is emotional baggage, but he’s not whiny, whimpy, or wussy! I almost want to say that his conversation with Silica about how strength is just an illusion and that there are more important things seem to hint at what Kirito is looking for that will enable him to keep going and not give up. What would that be? I think whatever relationship he has with Asuna, it’s something that, as the story progresses, would give him a sense of home: to be who he is, to not feel alone, and to share the same hopes and dream with someone else. I guess you can call that love in a companionship sense.

      4. Character development…of the female characters, yes.

        What about Klein then? He was only really prominent at the beginning of the LN, and now his appearances have been trumped by all the moe. No love for the Bro. His time to shine is next episode. =P

      5. In that case that only needed two episodes. The episode with Sachi was good for Kirito’s development and the the one with Silica gave some details about Kirito’s family life. The mystery arc was a complete waste of time and the Lisbeth episode was good but didn’t provide any insight to Kirito.

  1. According to some unidentified source, Kirito’s black wyvern coat is crafted equipment from Ashley’s the same store that Asuna buys her clothes and armor from.

    Alternatively, he could have just dyed his coat.

    Suppa Tenko
    1. I known right?!Although it is true that Kuradeel was faster, in SAO, when 2 weapons clash, the lighter one will rebound, however, if a strong attack (like what Kirito did here) is delivered to a weapon’s weak point, the standard rule does not apply, thus the weapon break.

      Just look at that guy’s sword, there is a big ornament embedded in it, thus the part that has the embeddment must be thiner than the rest–a weak point.

  2. Pretty interesting episode to say in the least. I’ve complained before that Kirito’s and Asuna’s relationship need more fleshing out, and here we got it. If there’s ever going to be a chance for those two to shine, it’ll be from here on out. The antagonist-of-the-day was a bit too comical for my tastes, but that doesn’t exactly overshadow everything else which happened.

    If have any other expectations going to this arc, it’d be seeing Kirito grow as a character. He’s never really screwed up yet, and I guess that I just want to see him more humanized.

      1. Actually, I’m pretty iffy on the Black Cats scandal since it was more of the guild members’ ignorance which got them into the mess rather than Kirito’s. Still though, that’s one of few times which we’ve actually gained insight into Kirito’s psyche. How he develops from here on out though should be pretty interesting.

      1. Badass AND intimidating

        He looks like the kind of boss that you would bring a butt-load of Healing AND Revive items (SAO is a Rare exception to this rule understandably) just to survive the hour long battle of chipping its HP away bit by bit if your not at a high enough level

        That’s why I made it a habit over the years to over-level my character(s) and do “every” available side-quest when available for better equipment, gather funds for upgrades, stocking up on Healing and MP/SP items, long dungeon runs without saving (save point only located outside dungeons etc.) and getting insta-killed by a random strong enemy after gaining 10+ Levels only to have to start over is the bane of any RPG gamer existence!

        The wait for Next-Saturday will be nothing but pure torture

  3. To answer you question, I think it would make a lot a difference would they have skipped all this. For one you wouldn’t know who Asuna is and you also wouldn’t know the relation between Kirito and Asuna. Further you wouldn’t know about guilds, about the crafting system and the cooking system. The only thing that would happen is, that the anime would be a lot more confusing without the sidestorys first. I’m still planning to read the light novels, so maybe my point of view my change about this :).

    1. That’s a good reasoning.
      We assume that anime watchers have played RPG, or MMORPG before.
      Not every audience played games, even RPG, even MMO.
      The side stories is a nice ramp up. Also character development.
      And while reading the LN, I took a lot of RPG stuff for granted, as well as for example, when reading the LN I kept feeling Asuna is an annoying girl at first who just latches on to Kirito, which is not what I felt from the anime at all.

      I also feel the confusion in the LN, which doesn’t ruin my enjoyment, but this side story/character development allows for a wider target audience that could’ve enjoyed the story.

      1. I think it´s confirmed that the adaptation will cover Fairy Dance completely. Just see, they are not even have way into the adaptation and 80% of Aincrad storyline has been cover beautifully.

  4. Good episode Overall but… hhmmmm the way their showing that one laughing coffin member who i’m assuming is either Show Spoiler ▼

    if its the former then I kinda sense an original anime ending ,but if its the later than thank god we might get the chance to see Sinon. Oh yeah can’t wait for next week Show Spoiler ▼

      1. Show Spoiler ▼

  5. Watching all the episodes so far, the pacing is so nice that you’d never guess that the story was jumping around random chapters of Volumes 1, 2, and 8

    Definitely buying this when it comes out in the US.

  6. Gotta love the rabbit’s “I’m screwed” face when it jumps after Kirito’s first throw.

    On a side note, I think Kirito said that (party member thing) because it serves as a good excuse and he still doesn’t want to bear the responsibility of someone else’s life – the scar from Sachi’s event and the fact that he left Klein alone on the first day still bother him to this day. I don’t think he really means it.

    1. I think so too, that it’s because of his guilt.
      His ‘hold back’ shouldn’t mean in terms of progress or obstruction.
      It should mean in terms of having to protect someone. In the Lisbeth scene, it was shown that he enjoys partying with her, but he still is burdened by having to protect.
      That’s why it’s strongly emphasized by Asuna that she can take care of herself, that she’s not significantly weaker by Kirito.
      Her gesture should mean something along the lines ‘I don’t need you to protect me’/’I don’t need your protection’
      (Of course she actually wants to be protected.. But that’s another story)

      (speculation, not in LN, but that’s the implication I’m getting)

  7. And I expect some anime original episode/arc soon – seeing as they show someone from Laughing Coffin in the crowd during Kuradeel and Kirito duel. Show Spoiler ▼

    1. Show Spoiler ▼

    2. It is impossible to make a anime original arc at this point, not when Fairy Dance is going to be animated as well. I think they put thr cameo just as foreshadowing what it is yet to come; light novel readers don´t need an explanation about this.

  8. Moomba, my preference would have been for those side stories to have been 1 or 2 eps instead of 6. A little time for world-building, a few character introductions, a notion that time is passing, and then a cut to this ep – it would have been perfect if this was, say, episode 4.

    Generally, this was a very good episode – the one I’ve been waiting for, where the series really starts. The premise continues to interest me, and I like the way the show is exploring the psychological state of those in SAO – many of whom, unsurprisingly, prefer it to real life. Good progress.

    However, I’m not really buying any of the characters – Kirito is an avatar, and pretty much all the others (including Asuna, sadly) play like archetypes and not real characters. There’s something meta about an anime about an MMO where the player-characters play like player-characters – maybe intentionally so – but I still don’t really care about any of them as people for that reason. And that whole breast-grope-followed-by-beat-down thing felt unbelievably tired and played-out.

    1. Actually I kinda like the grope scene. The novel was in 2009 so back then it was common, but not overused then, and he’s not exactly beaten down, just shoved away.
      Actually, character-wise, what’s interesting is that, after pushing him off, she goes off and hides behind him. I don’t see that reaction often 🙂

      And on your point about archetypes – what do you mean? I kinda took ’em for granted..
      Like a swordsman and a fencer archetype? How about .hack’s characters? Would they be considered archetypes? Do you mean they don’t have enough individuality/personality?

      1. I don’t know how much anime you were watching before 2009, but trust me – that kind of scene was already as common as dirt by then, with room to spare.

        By archetypes I mean that none of the characters feel like fully realized individuals. It feels as if Kawahara compiled a list of traits expected of certain tropes (tsundere, damsel-in-distress, etc.) and fed them into a computer, which spit out the characters. It may be intentional given that this is an anime depicting an MMO, i.e. “character classes” instead of actual characters – but for me, it makes them less interesting.

    2. I agree mostly with what Guardian Enzo’s saying as well, as a person who hasn’t read the original source material.

      The major thing to note in my view is how awkward it would have been if there were no side stories included in the first place. Shifting from the start suddenly to the 74th floor would bring about it an innumerable amount of questions, as well as a torrent of: “What the heck just happened?” As such, as least a few of those side stories were required for world-building and the like. At worst, it would at least bridge the gap.

      But after watching the eight episode and pretty much enjoying it easily more than any of the past 7, the feeling I’m left with is: “If only they did this sooner”. There’s definitely a part of me that feels they should’ve started with this sooner, because the episode had quite the impact at episode eight, but I can’t help but feel it could’ve held even more impact earlier. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate the side stories and from my view, I know at least a few episodes were needed, but the pure length of them to get to the main story really takes away a bit from the experience. As such, like Enzo, I’d feel like only a few of those side stories should’ve been put in.

      But regardless, I don’t think we can really ever get a proper unbiased comments regarding this, because there’s one huge problem to the equation: the fact we’re making our views on hindsight, having after watched all the side stories to this point. Basically, I feel like, the fact we’ve already seen the side stories to get to this point makes it exceptionally difficult to sort out our feelings completely as to the actual influence of the side story to this episode’s enjoyment. But I do like that you bring it up either way, as it is an interesting thought regardless.

      Just to end things off, I reckon since I’m already referencing Enzo’s reply, I’ll write a little bit about the characters too. Personally, I’m more of a fan than I’m not of them… but I would say mostly that’s because of me being exceptionally biased in favor of certain kinds of shows, characters, and tropes. Zooming out of that a bit though… I have to say, Enzo’s comment does have a lot of credence to it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not “hating” on them, but it does feel like they do lend a lot to particular archetypes. There’s nothing particularly wrong with sticking to those said archetypes in my opinion, especially if the rest of the elements in SAO make up for it, but it would be preferable to have characters just a tad bit more complex and unique, and less archetypal, less like wholes made of many elements of characters we see on a regular basis. Also, it feels like there’s a fair amount of black and white here as well, but not much gray to speak of. Though in the end… I will admit the whole background of escapism in a virtual MMO does at least pair up nicely with the somewhat idealistic archetypes we see in SAO.

      All in all, I just wanted to also say that at the least, SAO isn’t nearly as bad as people seem to slam it and this episode is a big reason why, as it showed a bit of the potential I saw prior to the season. However, I don’t see it hitting the top echelons of anime this season… but it should at least be a decent experience, with room to grow.

    3. This ain’t gonna be short and sweet, but I generally agree with Enzo’s sentiments. However, I have my own take on things in the SAO universe. The problem isn’t with the archetypes/tropes.

      The problem is that SAO is about wish-fulfillment and self-insertion and is written as such. The whole VR MMO backdrop is an avenue for the author and the audience to write and experience an escapist story. It’s about Kirito being a plot-armored badass and all the girls flocking to him for nary a realistic reason. For these kind of characters who are flawless are called Gary Stus (and for Asuna’s case, Canon Mary Sue) and doesn’t give much room for character development because they’re already so damn flawless. It kind of diminishes the quality of whatever happens in the series because by that point we realize there is nothing that can really challenge them.

      Reasons why this is Gary Stu: Looking Cool: CRAWLING: The Animu
      Kirito is more or less the strongest dude in the game, who manages to court Asuna, who’s the second strongest (also happens to be the prettiest). He gets all the ladies for reasons I really can’t comprehend why. For later events not yet animated: Show Spoiler ▼

      Also, starting with this episode, we see that we’re two years in after launch of the MMO, and it seems the world’s governments and their intelligence agencies, militaries, vigilante hacker groups, etc. have left the inhabitants of SAO for dead. Two years, people, two years! This just explains that the author’s intention was never to focus on the grand scheme of things; instead, he chose to stick with the MMO world, which, frankly, requires a whole lot more suspension of disbelief than needed for any other anime series BECAUSE he doesn’t address the outside world.

      I honestly can’t tell if everyone working on this property is trying to parody/mock the generic shounen genre because I can’t imagine this type of writing getting past an editor who wants coherent and engaging storytelling.

      Feel free to thumb me down.

    4. haha thanks, Enzo! For a moment there, I thought I was going to be the only one to say, “character development? What character development?” The word “development” suggests progression. So tell me, what’s the progression of Kirito’s character from episode 3 to episode 4? Episode 4 to episode 5? Episode 6 to episode 7? You really can’t because the story itself is so disjointed.

      Coming from someone who HAS read the LN, I am what I classify myself as a “Volume 1 purist”. I feel that side stories are exactly as their name implies: a story that’s on the side. You keep it minimal. You tie it with the main story. Our impression of Asuna as we read Volume 1 is someone that’s NOT a tsundere. It’s from the side stories that she becomes one. If we’d jump straight to this episode, when she gets groped and smacks the crap out of Kirito, you wouldn’t feel like she was a tsundere. As a matter of fact, Asuna would come off as a character who is interested in Kirito for reasons unknown, and we would be interested in their back-stories. Lead with the strong foot; what people don’t realize is that the main draw to these side stories was actually because the main story was so good that we got interested in these characters. Putting the side stories in front is just asking us to be interested in this character we know nothing about because he’s super strong. That’s not the story we should have been told.

      tr;dr they should have set up the world, show 1 or 2 side stories to set up the mechanics, and then jumped right into the main story. Then let the main story be interspersed with the other side stories because we now know and like the characters and want to see their past.

  9. Answering your question, it would be very awkward if the series started from this point. For me, the side stories helped establish the world of SAO and its terminologies. To put it into another perspective, it would be like starting an MMO at a high level in a high level area with no knowledge of the game. On another note, can you grope someone in SAO or was that a anime original thing because if it was an anime original, I hope they keep those to a minimum. I don’t mind them for comedic laughs but I don’t want the anime to break the MMO’s rules just for that.

    1. That groping scene was actually in the light novel as well, pretty much executed word for word.

      Normally, though, if you tried to do something indecent, there would be an option for the offended party to report you and send you to a holding cell.

      1. Ah, thanks for the info. Man, if that is the case, I guess it is a good thing I’m not in the game 😉 because all the lolis would definitely have something to fear other than death lol.

  10. Incidentally, this is also how I spin my pens. I tried it with other things too, like chopsticks, but pens seem to have the perfect balance for that kind of spinning.

    As an anime only viewer, I liked how some of the previous episodes spent time on Kirito’s/ Asuna’s relationship. I feel a jump from ep 1 to ep 8 would have been to sudden, especially given the lack of explanation of the mechanics of SAO. The time to develop the two main leads, however little, makes me more sympathetic towards them.

  11. Having read the light novels, I’ve gotta say that starting from this point adds a bit of mystery and keeps you wondering (it also makes kirito seem more badass). I’ve always been a fan of flashbacks to keep the plot moving along and to give keep our impression of different characters centered on the present. There’s something different about a mc who faces tragedy and becomes isolated versus a loner with a tragic past. In the former case, you still remember him as a happy go lucky kinda guy whereas in the latter the character seems much more mature.

  12. I think it would have felt a bit rushed. Especially the developments on their relationship showed in today’s episode.
    If they had skipped those “fillers” episodes then they would have had to make some references to what had taken place before.
    NOW… I had to admit that for the past 4 episodes I’ve been wondering if they would eventually go somewhere with the story or what.
    Not sure if they handle it well.

  13. Even though I know that this will have two seasons think they are wasting time by throwing in hints for things that we’ll probably never see.
    Show Spoiler ▼

  14. To answer the question. Well I started reading the novel recently after watching the anime. But in my opinion it would feel awkward if we jumped from Ep.1 to Ep.8 in the anime media. Today’s episode was pretty well paced since we had some insight of SAO’s world and mechanics from previous episodes. Whereas in the LN this episode would be occasionally interrupted with an explanation by Kirito of the mechanics like tracking/throwing skill, economy, cooking skill, dueling, items & weapon durability/breakage, it works well in text form. But animated it’s hard to work with and doesn’t work so well. I rather like how they approached the side stories and showed us the world of SAO as well as it mechanics and little details weaved into the plot, rather than receiving an explanation.

  15. @Moomba i LOVE reading your posts…i feel like we have the same mind! i read the light novels as well and its nice to see an opinion that has also read them, but doesnt always compare…btw can you tell me where you watch sao? your screen shots are REALLY hq, and id like to switch to what your doing. loved the post and the episdoe and i can tell im going to be watching this episode many more times until next saturday haha 🙂

      1. yup! after i watch the episodes every saturday, the next think on my to-do list is refresh the randomc homepage til i see your review up! haha thanks for answering my question! ill be waiting for your episode 9 and all the other 15 in the series!! :DD

  16. So, what is Kirito current level?? and what is Asuna lvl? I bet this time the boss will move our of his room just to chase down whoever that disturb him since the game is getting crazy. The Gleam Eye, which in my term is the chimera, same goat head and snake body just that in this case the lion head and goat head fused tgt, why call it the Gleam eye?

    1. If I recall, at this point in the story, Kirito should be around level 90 and Asuna around level 85, give or take a few levels.

      In general, in order to keep a respectable safety margin, it is wise to challenge the boss only when you exceed it by about 10 levels.

  17. Having read the novels several times over before the anime came out, I can say that I’m glad they had the side stories in there.
    Without them, there’d be a big lack of characters and motivations that head directly into the next arc, one of them being a major part of the OP. (Not spoiling it for anybody here…Go read the novel, shoo shoo! 😛 )

  18. I don’t think that the anime would have done well if they just jumped to this point in time. Think about it, all the character development and backstory would be gone!

  19. To answer the question in the writeup, I think that skipping episodes 2 to 7 would result in a very different experience. This would be especially true if I have very little experience with MMOs. Episode 8 is a development episode; mainly development of the world and relationships (Kirito/Asuna, Kirito/society, Asuna/guild and such). If this followed the first episode I wouldn’t be looking for development; I would be looking for exposition. I wouldn’t get any. I’ll just suddenly have heaps of frankly distracting questions. What, 2 years?! There’s real estate on a dungeon floor? Wait, who’s this girl? Was she in the OP? She’s in a guild? Kirito’s not in a guild? What’s a guild? There can’t be much “development”; I don’t even know who these people are in the first place and frankly would be less likely to care.

    Aside: This is why Red Nosed Reindeer felt rushed and veteran fiction-devourers can peg Sachi for death from the beginning of the episode. She’s not intended to be developed in her own right; her role is obviously to develop Kirito. Bad things will happen to her.

    2 years is a lot of empty space. You can’t just up and tell the audience “it’s been two years!” and just have them buy it straight. This is especially true when the episode tries to emphasise how long people have been trapped in SAO. For the audience it sure won’t feel like 2 years. It’ll feel like the anime just started (which, as episode 2, would be the case). There would still be watchers who are deciding whether this anime is worth following for the rest of the season.

    Still, it’s hard to say definitely whether the alternative execution is better or worse. If Episode 8 was in fact Episode 2 I expect that it would have been handled a lot differently, if only because of its positioning. For example, there could be a lot more references back to past events, lots more subtle hints at past development. Such a sudden time-skip would me expect, perhaps even demand, flashbacks. There would need to be various Checkov’s guns that point backwards. Perhaps it would even be split into two episodes instead of one.

  20. In last week,many c82 doujinshi with kirito+asuna are out.Unbeknown to me, this week episode is all about kirito+asuna too.

    Anyways I still want kirito+asuna more and more and more and more and more.

  21. One complain I have for this episode is the pacing feel a bit rush everything happen too fast like for example when they enter the boss room near the end, the LN describe how the fire lit one, two, three all the way to the boss, then the boss slowly rise and show its massive body horn and face, all I am saying it just built up more suspense that way and make the boss look more urber, but in the anime they went inside the room fire light up boss show up bam thats it, no suspense at all. Don’t have that I came I saw I conquer kind of feels you know.

  22. How the hell would they put the Laughing Coffin arc when they’re already on the original timeline? Didn’t that happen before level 74??? Aww, this one of those episodes where you scream for “MORE!!!” 🙂

  23. I’ve always gotten the feeling that with the short stories, they should’ve went with Kirito remembering how everything got to this point, where the novel actually begins. It would make the jumps in the story a bit easier to follow because its the things Kirito remembers about SAO the most from his time during these two years. I think if they went that route, those first episodes would’ve had a lot more impact.

  24. This episode of SAO was everything I wanted to see.
    How the sword skills worked.. Kirito and Asuna performing them skilfully, it showed off the game’s beautiful and diverse landscapes (if only it had zoomed out to show a bird’s eye view of the town Kirito is using as his base, but the dungeons, 74th floor view, the lake floor where Asuna lives in was already very impressive, Asuna’s house), I loved seeing how cooking worked down to the trade shop and stuff about how life in SAO is working .. basically everything in the episode. On top of that, Kajiura Yuki’s bgm had a particularly nice piece playing.

    It still missed points especially on Kirito’s thoughts which explain about food in SAO, details of the duel, his reactions to Asuna, and more, so people can go to enjoy the novel if they want to know those details. The details are interesting compliments so I recommend doing that if you enjoyed this episode. Just be careful of becoming unable to stop reading until the end.

  25. I have read the novels, but keeping episode 2 to introduce Asuna and episode 3 done with more narration of Kirito’s feelings would have been fine. I would have liked Liz’s episode Show Spoiler ▼

    Episode wise it has gone from Kirito getting two swords in episode 7, to only have 1 again in episode 8. As a anime-only viewer I’d be like “Wha? Why did they show me that episode last week? This episode take place before last week’s episode…”

  26. As the main story of Sword Art Online truly begins, the show truly shines with yet another awesome episode.

    I’ve already posted my views on the side stories in the comments section for the mid-summer podcast, but in summation I still believe the anime made the right choice in their utilization. From world building, to great characters like silica and Lisbeth, to an introduction to many of the inner workings and concepts present in Sword Art Online, the side stories also contained the development for Kirito into the swordsman he is now. And with all that out of the way, there’s less of a need to bother explaining things and there’s a much better flow plotwise. Honestly, I’d have called out Kirito and Asuna’s relationship as being rushed if I hadn’t seen the murder arc. So all things considered, as an anime only viewer, I think Sword Art Online handled the side stories the right way.

    But as for the episode itself, it was loaded with great interactions between Kirito and Asuna. In my opinion, the relationship between Kirito and Asuna is just so honest and cute that I can’t help but smile when they’re together. A love story amidst being trapped in an online prison that changes you and forces you to fight for your life or die a meaningless death just stirs up the hopeless romantic in me. It helps that I think it’s being told quite well despite being told over 4-5 episodes out of 8. And really, Kirito’s reactions to her flirting was just gold, in fact I’d say Sword Art Online has some of the best facial reactions of any show this season

    I don’t agree with Enzo’s opinion of the two as being archetypes, at least not by my definition of the word, and Asuna’s far away from the stereotypical tsundere to the point where I think she doesn’t really count. Actually… I would’t know what archetype Kirito would fit under. He’s the hero sure, but he’s made his share of mistakes and has gone through quite the ringer. He’s always preferred the virtual world to the real world but still pines for some of the things in his original life like his “sister.” The guilt from the Black Cats has in some form or another characterized his actions in the past few episodes. He’s honest to the point of being extremely blunt, but is overall a nice guy. And as an MMO addict, he uses his experience both in the mental and game sense to make himself into a genius of sorts in the world of Sword Art Online. To me, all that saves Kirito from just being an “archetype.”

    I’d have said the groping scene was in bad taste if the result wasn’t so darn hilarious. I think Asuna’s one of the few, if not the only, things in Sword Art Online that can give Kirito actual “physical pain.” And if Kirito hadn’t held on for so long, and gone to the trouble of actually feeling them up, I don’t think Asuna would’ve reacted as badly. Actually, I think any woman would’ve reacted about the same if put in the exact position. Though I doubt their slaps would have had the same force…

    Kuradeel certainly does strikes me as the stalker type, with Asuna implying the rest of the guild isn’t much better due to her pre-murder arc state of mind. I can’t fault him for being into Asuna, but waiting outside her house is a bit too much… and I doubt we’re done with him, especially with Laughing Coffin seemingly taking interest in both him and his dislike for Kirito. They’re probably still bitter about the one time Kirito interfered with their “fun.” Speaking of dislike, I see the Beater moniker still hangs over Kirito’s heads even after two years. I’ve heard some people complain about it never being brought up after episode 3, so I’m glad to see it addressed again if only just a little.

    The action was quite good in this episode, from Asuna showing off how she earned her moniker of the “Flash”, to some very fluid sword action from both her and Kirito. It really shows the benefits of having A-1 save the animation budget. It makes me really excited to see how the fight with the 75th boss is going to look.

    All in all, a really great episode as the main story of Sword Art Online gets rolling.

  27. Yay! Finally the main story! This episode would have fit perfectly as the second episode really since Kirito narrates it in the beginning anyway. I wish they kept that though at least during the scene when Asuna reveals her Cooking Mastery skill. Kirito’s internal monologue is half the comedy.

    Also, I wish they played the episode for 5 more seconds though. THAT would have been the most hilarious ending shot.

  28. Glad to see the story is on track. Asuna finally has something to do other than look pretty. I just wish this started sooner. She’s still pretty boring but hopefully her added screentime will change that.

    On the Meta-gaming side, I always remember being in guilds. There is always a fine line between playing to have fun and “RAIDS ARE SERIOUS BUSINESS”. Its often becomes an arguing point within guild members so I like that part. Too bad for Kuradeel he has no understanding of the difference between guild duty and just being a creep.

  29. The animators should have made this the 4th or 5th episode. Some may argue that the past side-stories gave Kirito character development, but really? Character development? The MMO setting was established well, yes, but as for Kirito and sadly even Asuna, IMO they were bland until this episode.

    Also, they could have just animated the LN side story “First Day” as the 2nd episode and pick some other side stories (NOT the mystery murder please) and move on to the main story.

  30. As I was saying just before the bloody site had to cruelly crash on me as I clicked “Submit Comment” (my comment also disappeared after the crash, meaning I have to type the whole thing from memory again):

    Asuna is too cute.

    Though IMHO, Moomba’s screencap didn’t catch Asuna blushing enough.

    UTW Subs’ blog post has a better shot 🙂

    Despite being violated by Kirito (even though it was an accident), she still chose to hide behind him for protection from that annoying stalker from her guild. HNNNG

    Kinny Riddle
  31. As an anime-only viewer, I personally thought A-1 Pictures handled the chronology quite well. Without the side-stories of previous episodes, Kirito would have been just an aloof merry MMORPGamer, and the significance of death in the game would have lessened.

    So with all due reverent respect to the very knowledgeable readers of the novels, I honestly can’t see what all the fuzz is about concerning adaptation issues.

    Hope that answers your question, Moomba.

    Kinny Riddle
  32. Yay! I kinda experienced a withdrawal feeling when randomc disappeared… Just happy it’s back.

    Although I’m a LN reader, I would say that the way this anime has presented the side stories, especially in a chronological manner is necessary. It helps you know what makes Kirito tick, and what made Asuna fall in love with him. It’s not perfect, but if a non LN reader would just view episode 1 and then this episode, he would probably feel that the character development between the two would be lacking and rushed… I would imagine why Asuna would seem so flushed and friendly to Kirito, and the MMO elements would make a non-gamer scratch their heads in confusion.

    I actually felt this succession of episodes makes you appreciate what a good story SAO is and complements reading the LN too.

    On the other hand I really hope they really do the Mother’s Rosario arc. Crossing fingers…

  33. After rather good and solid start episodes had this all random guys and events and most of us where left wondering what is happening and is this how anime is going to be from now on?
    Overall I prefer a good set up but most of what is called set up for this anime was very random for us who have only seen anime so far. So answer is yes and no… it should have been built considering main lines too not to lose our understanding of whole concept just by showing how great guy he is…

  34. When it is said that two years has passed i think, wow, how do they look in the real world? I am thinking they all have tubes in their noses and IV bags. They must be wasting away. I find something puzzling, they can taste food but feel no pain when slashed? The mechanics of the five senses in the game are not very clear. Or is it the reaction of pain is being displayed and the fear of impending doom?

    After all the side stories i still don’t know Kirito’s motivation. He is a solo player who is on the front lines but isnt in a rush to leave the game. He is somewhat anti social except for cute girls who he has a soft spot for. He’s one the strongest players but doesn’t exert his power over others except if there’s a cute girl involved. He has a sense of justice but not a sense of fairness. These explain who Kirito is but not why he is.

  35. Echoing some thoughts from the podcast, while I do think that the extra side stories contributed much to character building, I think there were too many of them; in particular, I found the murder mystery episode to be the least necessary of them, even if it did feature some interaction between Kirito and Asuna.

    The characters in that mini-arc weren’t particularly memorable (read: no cute girls! [well, Griselda might count if she had any air time, but I digress]), and there wasn’t any particularly spectacular moment there either, so I think they could have done without those two episodes.

    Anyway, it’s great that we’re back on track.

  36. Personally i wouldn’t like them to skip to this point. Really i think a lot of what happened has structured the way Kirito acts. I can understand after the first two episodes that if they skipped the story to this episode, oh we meet asuna again, oh he’s still a loner because he chose to take on that persona as a Beater. But really there was much more to that as shown in the filler episodes and him starting to realize that maybe being connected to other’s in the game is important even though you might loose them. Though the overall plots of the short stories were not handled well, i think the character’s were handled well.

  37. The thing is, reading a bit into the manga already before realizing that they would release the Sword Art Online anime, some of the side story do connect with the main story, as we will see later on in the show. Though the mystery one probably has the least connection to the main story overall, it’s still an important one. What you see right now, makes you think, oh it has nothing to do with the main story, when really, small bits and pieces do.

    Sora no Kaze
  38. To add to an altready ridiculously long comment list, I hadn’t read or heard anything about SAO until it came out as an anime, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it as an animated series – if we’d skipped two years to get to the “main” story, I wouldn’t have liked Kirito much or been willing to put up with his seemingly loner attitude. With the background that has been given so far, I can appreciate where his attitude is coming from and enjoy it much more.

    Also, just a shout out to Moomba, but I really appreciate the way you are taking the series apart – specifically in analysing the MMO bits in relation to real life reactions (if these things were actually happening), and also the comparison of how MMORPG games work in relation to this story. It’s increased my enjoyment of the series and caused me to watch and think through each episode with more attention to detail than I otherwise would have done.
    So, well done!

  39. I read the light novels after watching the first 2 episodes. I enjoyed reading the LN up until GGO. Mother Rosario was too depressing but still enjoyed it up to a certain point. Just finished Volume 9 and about to read 10.

    I agree with what others are saying – in that the anime adaptation was in the right track for doing it in chronological order as opposed to the sudden 2 year time skip. I know I wouldn’t have enjoyed reading Asuna in the LN if I hadn’t seen her first in episode 2.

    One of my concerns though is that they could have cherry picked some of the side stories that could have expanded the world better to better prepare the viewers when the story picks up on floor 74. If I would have had my way it should have been presented in this order:

    Episode 1: World of Swords
    No question here. In my opinion they’ve done this adaptation justice.

    Episode 2: First Day (adapted from Volume 8 Story 3)
    This could’ve better fit for a second episode for various reasons. It delved deeper into the fear and tension ofter Kayaba’s revelation at the plaza as well as into Kirito’s guilt on leaving Klein. It also expands on Kirito’s prior knowledge of the game via the beta test and gives the viewers a perspective on why the vast majority of SAO’s population hates beta testers after what they did on the first days of SAO. It can also develop the world by expanding on quests and rewards. Only downside to this is that it may be a bit to grim and that we don’t get to see Asuna until Episode 3

    Episode 3: Aria of the Starless Night
    Done well save for Argo being ommitted. Hate for Beta Testers would have been justified after watching First Day.

    Episode 4: The Red Nosed Reindeer
    Everything that has been animated has been done well save for a few tidbits (like Klein had a duel instead of his whole guild fighting of the other guild).

    Episode 5: The Black Swordsman
    Also was done almost faithfully save for the horrendous trench coat Kirito is wearing.

    Episode 6: Warmth of the Heart Part 1
    As much as I love how well executed the scene where Asuna falls a sleep under the tree, I’m willing to sacrifice seeing this quite early to give more development with Lizbeth. They could have expanded more with the Frost Dragon fight scene and I surely wished the Dragon was not CG. This episode could have ended with a cliffhanger after they get blown away by the frost breath attack.

    Episode 7: Warmth of the Heart Part 2
    Having split it to a second episode would have given more time with emotional scenes with Lisbeth & expand more into the blacksmithing mechanics.

    Episode 8: Black and White Sword Dance
    No complaints here. XD

    John Stampede
  40. If no one told me about light novels, and I (did) watched this without reading them, I think the story is satisfactory. It’s in the sense that the character development for Kirito is well-portrayed to make people believe he’s on a mission of bringing reality back to the world of himself and others. And that mission is a long and diversified one. Just as there are levels to pass and monster bosses to defeat to move on, the people that he meets along the way shows a truth to his choices. HIS choice to fight for freedom and how he came to make them. I hope that was clear. Also, a side note, there were “light novels” for the anime Angel Beats and I thought if it was added into the series it would have shown a more elaborate understanding between the character relationships. This was after I saw the whole anime and then reading the novels/manga.

    ranndom viewer
  41. I would like to point out couple of differences between episode 8 and light novel. Firstly, Kuradeel did not materialize a dagger attacking Kirito again. He renounced that he resigned from their Dual. He then uttered to Kirito that he would kill him for the humiliation of defeat before transporting to KoB HQ. Show Spoiler ▼

    A-1 animators changed/left that out. Secondly, Kuradeel’s dagger went flying when Asuna rushed in with her sword. A-1 animators added this part, not from light novel. This raised a serious question. Could another player interrupt during a Dual? Logically, it should not be possible to do such thing in SAO gaming environment due to player safety. :p

  42. They actually explain the process of blacksmithing more in the Light Novel. Something along the lines of after getting the material you just hit it with a hammer a certain amount of times before the item forms.


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