41 CommentsSword Art Online / By Inushinde /

Sword Art Online Episode 3: Sad Items Crying in the Snow


Seriously, look at that snow. Isn’t it the most beautiful snow that’s ever been rendered? I smacked my gob when I saw that and swore to myself that I’d try to find something else positive to say, so I wouldn’t just spend a paragraph gushing about how gorgeous the snow is when I could praise the breadth of character development or the effective use of disjointed pacing to frame just how empty Kirito’s existence in the virtual world is.

Well that plan fucking backfired, because this pulsating mess of clichés could have been replaced with grainy footage of a mongoose tearing apart a family of helpless rabbits and it still wouldn’t have been any less enjoyable.

There’s a fair amount to complain about with this episode; the pacing is somehow even worse than last episode, its attempts at plucking the audience’s heartstrings are undermined by the aforementioned pacing, and any sense of Kirito’s development past being a Kafka-esque walking disaster is countered by the equally disastrous pacing. Thus far, every single good thing that I could say about the show has been immediately and equally counterbalanced with the fact that it can’t slow down and build the setting for any substantial length of time. But I would be beating that dead horse beyond identification if I brought it up in every single post, so thankfully the show presents me with plenty of other things to be bothered by.

My biggest complaint is also one of the pettiest, but it’s something that’s nagged me since last episode’s underwhelming kobold battle. For most likely being aware of RPG clichés or accepted mechanics, like bosses changing forms/weapons when down to 25% health or obvious trap rooms, everybody seems to conveniently forget about them when they’re at their most blatant.

This episode was particularly bad, with Kirito’s new guild running into a recently opened secret room with a lone treasure chest in the middle, and getting slaughtered for their carelessness. The time skips somewhat cover for this by implying that they could’ve been in this situation before without any trouble, but it’s still annoying that nobody except Kirito seems prepared for any nasty surprise that Sword Art Online might throw their way. At this point, it’s pretty damn ridiculous that Kirito’s savviness only stops at arbitrary points where people end up dying, especially those that he grows to care about.

Sword Art Online’s hardly terrible, but my complaints have only been verified in most cases. While Red Nosed Reindeer was hardly bad, it would have served better as an OVA, rather than as the second half to a slightly insubstantial drama that tries to make a group’s death have impact, but fails on account of the slapdash pacing that’s hounded everything else in this series. Then again, if that happened I wouldn’t have seen how fantastically rendered that snow was. I mean damn. Snow.

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  1. Posted July 23, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink


    Yeah this episode would have made a perfect OVA as a introduction to SAO, but I found it funny that Kirito joined a guild?! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! I guess he was bored or felt sorry for them…also hiding his level? I suppose he doesn’t want to be used or something like that.

    Sachi! NOooooooooo! T_____T

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 3:19 am | Permalink

      I think it’s because he felt guilty about being several levels above everyone else, or that he’d be scorned if they found out he was over twice their level. It makes sense considering how beaters are looked at, but you’d think that there’d be a certain level of trust over time for him to admit it.

  2. Mr.RR
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I like how that one dude yelled at him for being a beater when he was like the best beta player, but only ascended to the 6th floor. He has now beat his old high-score, he can’t possible know anything at this point. It almost looks like they are creating drama when a simple sentence could stop all of that.

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 3:25 am | Permalink

      I think it’s to show the irrationality of the distrust toward the beta players, but that doesn’t make it any less ridiculous.

  3. Scamp
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    This show is terrible

    Just thought I’d throw that out there

    • Noname
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 12:25 am | Permalink

      Your opinion may not match mine, good sir, but I respect your right to have it.

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 3:31 am | Permalink

      It’s bad, but at least it’s watchable. At least I was never bored watching.

    • diz1776
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      OMG SCAMP doesn’t like something. Better raise the red flag

  4. Posted July 23, 2012 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Yukiiiiiiii ;-;

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 3:33 am | Permalink

      Beautiful, eh?

      • Chipp
        Posted July 24, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

        No, he’s talking about the main character of Subarashiki Hibi.

  5. hint
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    In episode 2, players didn’t give a damm about their leader´s death. They forgot who were they following and started celebrating. Was that fun to watch?
    Now watching these nameless noobs dying is more boring. Who were they?

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 3:38 am | Permalink

      They were people that Kirito decided to join to, I assume, assuage his loneliness and to give himself a sense of purpose for awhile. Of course none of this is overtly stated, so it’s pretty much supposition on my part.

  6. kirin
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Yep. It’s a mess indeed.

    There’s very little doubt that this adaptation is unable to fix all the sudden jumps and time skips that plague the source material, hence, the rampant pacing issues.

    Well, hopefully, the adaptation will move on the main story by the next episode. I mean, it’s still no masterpiece, but at least the transitions would be more tolerable.

    • blackice85
      Posted July 23, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      Oh so it’s not just the anime that has pacing issues? That explains it at least.

      I kinda wonder what’s going on with their bodies in the real world. I assume everyone is on life support and has been moved to some facility.

      • thewizardninja
        Posted July 29, 2012 at 3:21 am | Permalink

        The issues that you’ve seen aren’t actually issues in the novel because the first arc is a little anachronistic and is, well, a novel (not that it doesn’t have pacing issues, because it does, they just aren’t anywhere near as bad as this). After what would be the end of the first episode, there’s actually meant to be a 2 year timeskip. The SAO arc is actually the first novel plus a collection of side stories that take place in mostly that 2 year gap and are meant to be read AFTER that first novel, which means there isn’t actually all the jumping around but rather a filling in of some of that space. The thing is, the adaption is going chronologically, which is resulting in all the jumping and disconnected plot lines that were intentionally unrelated because they were separate side stories. Not to mention they’re condensing all these side stories and leaving out important details – so they aren’t even good stand-alone adaptions.

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 3:35 am | Permalink

      I really do like what the show is trying to do, but the pacing is quite the setback to… well, everything. A good concept is not excused by extremely poor execution/connectivity.

  7. Lanf
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Could the plot be any more predictable? Hell, if Sachi suddenly claimed she was Kirito’s Imouto, the out of tone surprise might have at least been an improvement.

    Really, if it wasn’t for the whole survival game aspect keeping things somewhat tense, it’d be dull as hell. Wait, that already exists – Accel World…

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 3:43 am | Permalink

      It really couldn’t have been easier to predict if it tried. I get what it’s going for, but it definitely could at least try something new while doing so. Of course, being predictable isn’t the worst of it, but it doesn’t help that you can see the characters’ deaths coming a mile away.

      • thewizardninja
        Posted July 29, 2012 at 3:50 am | Permalink

        See, this episode wasn’t just a random side story, it’s a more in depth and expanded telling of what we should already know. Kirito actually summarises these events in the first novel, so it doesn’t matter that it’s predictable because you quite literally ALREADY KNOW everything that happens with the guild. The entire side story is just you waiting with bated breath for everything to happen just the way he said it did. It’s meant to invoke a sense of despair when we see his efforts to bring her back because you also already know the twist at the end (to a certain degree), because he would have mentioned her revival in his summary if he had succeeded. Of course, whoever is adapting SAO didn’t seem to realise all this and stupidly put it before when it would have hit us in this way, so instead you’re left with a rushed, predictable story with seemingly no connection to anything else. What a waste.

  8. luffyluffy
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    I’m not even going to download the episode

    • Noname
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 12:26 am | Permalink

      I’m not even going to download the episode because I don’t need to rely on my own opinion to judge something. I will take other peoples opinions as truth.

      • luffyluffy
        Posted July 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        go away

  9. BwackNinja
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Why do you have to be right!? I really wanted this series to be good, not just pretty. They managed to even make the reunion between Kirito and Klein uneventful, though Klein was the reason he felt bad all of last episode, with Klein putting his guild members’ lives on the line (which is at least ironic, given the item) and not even putting any emphasis on the fact that PvP makes people die. .hack at least did that, and there all you lost was your unsaved work.

    Pacing is one thing, but this has a haphazard sense of continuity.

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 3:47 am | Permalink

      I really, really wish I wasn’t right. I mean I kind of do because bloated MAL scores give me a subconscious desire to rip into whatever’s being overrated, but I really want SAO to succeed. You’re not the only one that was expecting the reunion with Klein to be a little more eventful, but I think that the show covered its bases with the effects of PvP.

      Overall it’s a mess, unfortunately.

  10. hint
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Yo, Sword Art Online is the newest Zetman ver.2.0. Both rushed.

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 24, 2012 at 3:50 am | Permalink


  11. Posted July 23, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    What does my friend see in this anime again?

  12. Daniel
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    “implying that they could’ve been in this situation before without any trouble”

    Kirito is level 40, the rest of the clan is in the 20s. Thus when they entered the trap the monsters were spawned to fight a level 40 player. Had Kirito been level 20 like he said he was then the monstors would have been beatable and the clan would have survived.

    Yes Kirito really did kill them.

    • Posted July 23, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

      Well that fact wasnt made clear was it?

      • Daniel
        Posted July 23, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        It is a common game mechanic and they did obsess over the levels during the episode.

        It is alluded to before they leave for the dungeon when one of the players mentions that “at this level we are fine”.

        As well during the fighting you can notice that the other players are surprised their attacks are not more effective.

      • Posted July 23, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

        All of which is much too obtuse for anyone who doesn’t already know this fact from the novels. To the typical viewer almost none of these points hold up to scrutiny.

        -MMO mobs almost never scale by player level (not in WoW, WAR, RO, Aion, Tera, or SW:TOR at least). They have set levels per instance/area with the occasional elite wandering about. Even if this was the case, why was it only the trap room that scaled by the level of the highest player present and not the rest of the dungeon? Why weren’t we told beforehand in definite terms that SAO has adaptive difficulty?

        -“At this level we are fine” only tells us that the guy believes his party is suited to levelling in a tougher dungeon than they’re used to. I took it as normal MMO hubris. Players often get tired of grinding enemies several levels below them and challenge themselves by entering new areas slightly underleveled.

        -Kirito looked worried? Well obviously that’s because he’s worried. He could be worried because it’s a dangerous dungeon or he could be worried because of an element of the plot that was just barely alluded to and never properly explained to us. Which is the viewer more likely to assume?

        -Obviously the other players are surprised when a bunch of incredibly strong monsters appear and murder them. It’s a trap! Surprise is completely expected. All this tells us either way is that the monsters are strong – not that they’re strong for any particular reason.

      • Daniel
        Posted July 24, 2012 at 12:53 am | Permalink

        You’re going to have a hard time arguing that after a month+ of running towards any chest they find that this is the first time the clan has seen a trap.

        As for why the mobs might level:
        1. The game master is evil
        2. If the mobs did not level then everyone would grind until they reach MAX_LEVEL then walk through the rest of the world.

        As for needing to read the novel, well I didn’t.

      • Posted July 24, 2012 at 5:10 am | Permalink

        I’m fairly sure they have run into a trap or similar event several times before, which doesn’t really help the credibility of this episode.

        They’ve been with Kirito quite a while by the end, and given how they have nothing else to do but play the game, they must surely have run into a level-scaled encounter with him before. Why was it not also full of overwhelmingly difficult monsters?

        Does that make this one trap the only level-scaled encounter in the game? Why? If the goal is to dick players over and kill lowbies, you could achieve the same thing by just filling it with regular old non-scaling tough monsters.

        Having encountered other traps or even just by virtue of being gamers, these guys certainly fell for an incredibly obvious one. It’s an unguarded chest in the middle of a strange room with one door, nowhere near a boss or puzzle. Anyone who has ever played a video game could tell you its a trap. Where’s the self-awareness? Where’s the conventional awareness?

        Mobs don’t level in the overwhelming majority of MMO’s – players do. The reason they move to new areas is to fight enemies their level when they outgrow their current questing/grinding spots and can no longer gain exp from them. They move from place to place, crossing the game world, until they hit max level and tackle the endgame encounters (in this case, the final level of the main dungeon). If the mobs did level, it would be possible to grind a single spot all the way to the endgame.

        …That, and a lone high-level merely walking through the starting area would spawn a wave of level 48 Small Anemic Declawed Rats which would proceed to slaughter everyone nearby.

      • Posted July 26, 2012 at 12:47 am | Permalink

        Additionally, if Kirito had educated them about mysterious doors in dungeons, traps and the like beforehand, they probably would have survived.

        But he kept this information from them and feigned ignorance in order to fit in, so he KEELED them. The whole theme of this ep and the last are information, and the lack of communicating it costing lives.

      • Emophia
        Posted July 27, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

        It’s not really, if I didn’t know from the Light Novels I wouldn’t have known this at all.

        And how exactly is it a common game mechanic? Name 1 popular MMO that uses it.

  13. Xyopq
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    I’m gonna watch the next episode at half speed to see if the pacing improves.

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 26, 2012 at 3:24 am | Permalink

      I’m sure you’ll find it a mite jumpy if you do.

  14. Posted July 26, 2012 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    The pacing is mad horrible because for the past two eps they’ve been squeezing in side stories. Hoping they go to the original story soon, but I think next ep will be a side story ep as well… :(.

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 26, 2012 at 3:27 am | Permalink

      Couldn’t these side-stories have been adapted into OVAs or something instead? I imagine focusing on some semblance of plot would help things quite a bit.

      • Posted July 26, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        Not if they wanted a series with that many episodes. I like to consider these episodes more as a bone they’re throwing to the viewers. They didn’t -have- to animate the side stories, they’re not even in volume one. But they still did, and I’m thinking it was in order to flesh out the world and Kirito’s back-story that much more.

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