Sword Art Online 02 — Social Ineptitude

Over 75% of the voters in my poll wanted me to blog Sword Art Online. I’m not entirely sure why it’s so popular, but I guess I’ll blog it. I don’t play MMOs at all, so you’ll be getting the perspective of an outsider here.

I thought I was socially incompetent, but these MMOers make me look like a rock star. Our hero has been in the game world for over a month by now. He is going to kill the first floor boss. And what is our hero most concerned about? That he’ll be the last one picked at the playground and won’t have anyone else in his party. Basically, after an entire month in the game world, he still hasn’t made a single friend!

Fortunately for our friend, neither has the only girl in the MMO world. Wish fulfillment at its finest.

Of course, it’s not like the characters with friends are much better. We have the guy who, instead of beating the game, wants to go on a witch hunt for beta testers and burn them at the stake. Of course, our hero’s response to these accusations is unbelievably dumb. “I’m not just an ordinary beta tester. I’m the best beta tester!” Dude, no wonder you have no friends. He even had an easy way to recover when he called himself a “beater”— he could have said, “I’m going to beat the game, and you can join me or not join me.” But no, he claims he’s going to beat the game, and then ditches everyone and comes off as a jerk.

Then we have our friend the raid leader. He’s pretty good at organizing people. But his plan all along was to steal the boss’s loot for himself. Come on. You’d think one piece of armor from the first floor is not worth fragmenting your entire group (which carries your only chance of survival) and ruining your reputation.

Even worse is our hero, who refuses to give the guy a potion and allows him to die. Who cares if he doesn’t want your potion? If the guy wants to die, he should have the decency to do it alone.

The fights continue to be pretty cool, even if more lazily animated. Maybe one of you MMOers can explain why they need to yell “Switch!” though? It sounds like this is some special move, but it looks like they’re just switching who’s attacking.

12 thoughts on “Sword Art Online 02 — Social Ineptitude

  1. He *wanted* them to hate him. That was the whole point. He didn’t want them to go on a beta-tester witch hunt, so he pulled that stunt to make them hate him instead of all the other beta testers. It’s just like Batman or Zero, he’s sacrificing his own PR for the greater good.

    As for the potion, he was pretty much dead no matter what. They didn’t really explain how it works in the anime at all, but in the game when you take a big hit your hp doesn’t decrease instantly. It takes a few seconds or so for your hp bar to slide down. That combined with the fact that potions don’t restore your HP instantly, instead healing you slowly over time (another explanation they left out of the anime) means he was pretty much beyond saving. (There are other healing items that are instant, but they’re not available on the first floor)

    And switching, it’s not a general MMO term… it’s another thing they didn’t explain from the novels (come on, get your shit together A-1). Essentially, and this is going to sound really stupid but hear me out, you can’t stand inside other people. What I mean is that, in most of today’s MMOs there is no collision or clipping between characters. You can park your ass right inside someone else’s ass and both of you can attack the same enemy just like that. You can even stack a whole raid onto one tiny point. But SAO is different. Players have collision, they *can* touch each other. Since swinging a sword around takes up a lot of space (and also because of the complete lack of any real ranged weaponry) there’s a limited number of people (based on the size of the enemy) that can be actively fighting any one enemy at a time. Against most normal enemies this limit is usually just one. So then when your HP gets low and you need to step back and let your potions heal you up, you have to switch. But first you have to use a strong attack to momentarily stun them so that you have time to actually pull the switch off without the enemy wailing on you.

    1. That’s a decent response of issues raised in the post. While I’m sure the animation team can do better, personally I’m ok with them “show” not “tell” the various technicalities such as the “switch” and hp bar. Being in a different medium compare to the original LN, it contributes to the flow of the story.

      As for the “beater” part, clearly Kirito sensed internal conflicts ahead among top players, so by coming off as a jerk and taunting beta testers and newbies alike, he at least managed to postpone / mitigate the issue. Wouldn’t say it’s smart, but taking on unwarranted blame is often considered a traditional oriental virtue, considering the author’s cultural background.

      1. Yeah, I’m ok with leaving out some details too. Actually, I’m not sure why they mentioned the switching at all.

        Kirito’s strategy makes sense I guess, but still seems like a bad idea to me. I guess it is seen as more of a virtue in Japan, although it can be here as well.

    2. Wah, thanks for the explanation. I sort of understood the idea of “switch”, but I never really got the full gist or reasoning behind it.

      Apparently the girls development was also botched. I guess I should read the Light Novels someday.

    3. Ah, thanks for explaining everything! This makes much more sense now.

      I guess leaving out the explanation of switching makes sense, it doesn’t matter too much. If they aren’t going to explain it, why mention it at all though?

      The lack of explanation for the potion makes much less sense to me though. It seems like a pretty major difference, if he left the guy to die or couldn’t do anything in the first place.

      I suppose the actions which made everyone hate him make more sense now. Still, it doesn’t seem like a very good strategy in this situation, unlike Code Geass.

  2. Oooh this is going to be fun reading your thoughts on this series, but I hear you man it really is hard to review or write about something you don’t know much about subject wise but you got this Draggle! Woooooo! FIGHT THE POWER!!

    I think this episode was a lot better than the first now that the drama over being locked in the game world is over and now we can focus on the MMORPG elements of the series at last! So yeah that raid was kind of nice I liked how the creators actually put that info in this episode, but I suppose blue hair guy wanted the loot all for himself! I have seen that happen in real games…yeah…

    Asuna finally revealed! Wooooooooo and she was awesome in the fighting part of the episode…until Kirito ruined the mood with his “I am such a bad ass I don’t need friends” I found it funny he told Asuna you can’t do things alone in this game. DUDE WHAT THE HELL!? Take your own advice…really….at least he has the worst nickname ever “beater” < LOL

    1. Personally I prefer the drama over the MMORPG elements, but to each his own. The fights are pretty cool at least.

      And yeah, his speech about how you can’t do things alone in this game was hilarious when put took together with his going off alone. No self-awareness at all. And a terrible nickname.

  3. I don’t have any experience w/ MMO’s either but this type of games seems to be pretty popular. The social interactions interest me. I think it’s a bit unfair that Kirito gets the rare item for himself just b/c he accidentally did the last strike (beta tester or not).

    “Basically, after an entire month in the game world, he still hasn’t made a single friend!” I was surprised by that, too. Kirito was offered the friendship of that newbie in the first episode, no? Not only didn’t he make any friends, he actively refused the friendship he could have made. But I’d have done the same thing and would have waited for the girl.

    1. Agreed, the last strike thing seems unfair. Especially when there are people who don’t do lots of damage, but heal people and cast helpful spells like there are in other MMOs, from my understanding. I guess this one doesn’t have magic. But still, a lottery system seems fairer.

      I don’t know about waiting, it’s not like he knew that girl was going to show up. Or that making other friends would have prevented him from making friends with that girl.

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