Over the last couple of days I've been checking out some of Sword Art Online, the newest anime to tackle the world of online gaming (yeah, I know there's a manga, but I don't like reading manga). I'm five episodes into the series thus far, and it's been an entertaining romp. It's approach to MMOs, and understanding thereof are a bit on the simplistic side, but I find myself liking the characters quite a lot, and am taken aback by how dark the show can get sometimes.
Probably the other super popular anime to center on MMORPGs was .Hack, but I didn't really pay close attention to the series when it was all the rage. I'd poke my head in for a random episode when I remembered it was on, was reasonably entertained, and went merrily on my way, but I didn't go out of my way to follow it. With that, I can't make any comparisons between the two series, as tempting as it would be if I were more familiar with .Hack.
|Kirito helping Silica revive her baby dragon|
In the story arch that has just begun at the point I'm at now in the series, it looks like the show is touching upon how players try to exploit game mechanics to do stuff that the developers never intended. At least that's the impression I'm getting. It's basically a murder mystery as someone in the game world has found a way to PK (player kill) people in safe zones when they shouldn't be able to. I have a hunch of what may be going on, as I suspect the murderer is inflicting the initial damage on his or her targets, and then letting environmental damage finish the person off. Who knows if I'm right or wrong (well, I guess those of you who have seen more of the series know whether or not I'm correct, but don't spoil it for me!), but I am curious how this arch will end, not just in terms of solving who the murderer is but also how the person is killing the other players.
|Kirito may try and go it alone a lot, but he still has friends like Klein that|
have his back
They do make a good pair, though, not simply because of the romantic undertones, but because they fight well together, and as they work to solve the murder mystery they seem to have good chemistry when trying to accomplish a task. With that, I'm hoping things work out between them. It would also be nice to see a bit more of Klein, as he's a nice guy, and he and Kirito get along well. The male bonding may even do Kirito some good.
|Asuna and Kirito make both a nice couple,|
and a nice team
After five episodes, I'm quite enjoying this show. It's not taking any immensely novel approaches in how it portrays an MMORPG up to this point, but I'm fine with that because I'm really liking the characters. The series actually goes on into a number of other online games in the manga, and I find myself becoming more and more curious about these places. With that, Sword Art Online may be a series where I actually want to go ahead and read the manga just so I can see what happens next after the anime inevitably ends.