Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online on Wikipedia

Imagine an MMORPG where you are living the game. And if you die, you actually die in real life. Oh and you can’t log out unless someone beats the game by beating the final boss.

Sounds like your typical Singaporean World of Warcraft raiding guild on Wednesday night? That’s what I thought too. And this is why SAO is so good.

It’s social commentary that those of us in the WoW generation can identify. Topics tackled include:

– Usage of avatars that do not reflect our physical identities
– Mob psychology
– The banality of militant supporters of radical socialism
– Mob psychology
– Survivor’s guilt
– The existence and morality of looters and murderers
– Resignation to circumstances or making the best of it?
– Virtual world, real emotions
– The impact of tragedy on the world around

And the best thing about the whole show is that it doesn’t compromise the story for the sake of the message. Unfortunately, this is also why most people who watch/read it tend to view SAO as some sort of anime with lovable characters but mediocre action and mediocre hook.

But when you see that guy in town railing against what he thought was a social injustice perpetrated by people with privileged information, I am sure you can think of a rabble rouser closer to home with a populist agenda. Is he right or wrong? I suppose it depends on the circumstances, no? SAO presents the argument and the counterargument, then lets you watch as the resulting attitudes play out in the ensuing boss fight.

Now, the second half of the season  tries a little too hard to make the whole thing turn into a traditional good vs evil angle and the anime does lose its luster a little. (That and there wasn’t enough Kirito/Asuna romance) But the first half is sooooo worth it.


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Hankit Mok

I live to tell stories. Sometimes, I get paid for them.

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