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Sword Art Online - "The World of Swords" Episode 1 Recap

   It’s the year 2022, where people can now log into the world of virtual reality gaming and experience it all right with their own eyes.  Enter Kirito: a boy who finds himself trapped along with 9,999 other players in the new popular virtual online game, “Sword Art Online”.

                         

On November 6th, 2022, a virtual reality MMORPG called Sword Art Online was officially released and 10,000 copies were sold around Japan. A boy named Kirito, who got the opportunity to beta test the game, logs into the game’s world called “Aincrad” and meets a new player named Klein. After showing Klein the basics of the game, Kirito begins to notice that they both can’t log out. The two boys are then suddenly warped to the town square, where a giant red hooded figure appears in front of the 10,000 players who are online. The figure introduces himself as Akihiko Kayaba, the game’s creator, telling them all that he purposely removed the function to log out. Furthermore, he warns them all that they can’t log out by removing their Nervgear, which are virtual reality helmets that all players are given to play the game. Removing the Nervgear will cause their brains to automatically be fried by the system, and thus even their own family members in reality can’t save them. The only way to log out is for the players to conquer the game and clear all one hundred floors that await them. But if one should die inside the game, they will also pass away in reality. As a token for playing his new game, Akihiko gives all of the players a mirror item which turns their avatar’s facial appearances into their actual real life faces.

As the player population begins to panic over this situation, Kirito asks Klein if he will follow him to the next town in order to quickly level up before any of the resources inside the game are depleted. Klein humbly refuses and tells Kirito that he still has to search for his own friends that are also logged inside the game. Kirito heads out of town and vows to himself that he will escape from the game no matter what. But one month later, 2,000 players have died and nobody has yet cleared the first floor…

When I was a young boy, there was a particular series that would drive me to turn on the television way past my bedtime. That series was called .Hack//sign, which was written and developed by CyberConnect2. .Hack had a variety of different anime that always had a funny, mysterious cast that took place in a online game called The World“. I couldn’t stop thinking about it as I watched this. If .Hack were to be combined with a show that was obsessed with swords, it would be the “Sword Art Online” story written by Reki Kawahara. What I find already beautiful about this series is that it can take such a simple  concept like “being trapped inside a virtual world” and create a unique product out of it. I admit, if you read the basic description of this anime then you might think it’s rather cliche and not very creative at all since it’s just based inside of a game. But the writers managed this first episode so well I was having chills down my spine when it was revealed the players couldn’t log out; the benign concept was given a thrilling aspect and a sense of danger. Sword Art Online takes itself so seriously to the point where the sky is colored red at the darkest moment, and the soundtrack fits the drama for a perfect execution. This was probably one of the best introductions I’ve seen for a series in a very long time. I can’t wait to see where Kirito’s adventure goes and what possible conflicts he will face soon due to the terror that this game has brought upon on the world.

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