Sword Art Online

The light novel Sword Art Online will be made into an anime by A-1 Pictures. I don’t see anything about broadcast dates, but I imagine Winter or Spring is to be expected. SAO was actually a single, self-contained light novel which resolved the storyline, but when it proved popular, the author went back and filled in earlier portions with new stories. It’s not particularly groundbreaking, unless they play up the psychological angles. Set in the near future, a mad genius programmer creates a total-immersion VR fantasy medieval game — and then traps everyone in it on opening day. Basically, they can’t log out, and if anyone cuts the power to their headset, then the battery will power a microwave transmitter strong enough to fry their brains. (Hope they’re all on a good UPS!) The only way out… is to defeat all 100 levels of the game.

It’s a bit ridiculous, but one of the points the author makes is how people react when their play-danger becomes real. If they die in the game, the microwave activates and kills them in real life. (How he slipped a perfect anti-tamper device in it, I’ll never know). So now he’s got 10,000 test subjects, and sure enough, they react differently. Some suicide, some form large guilds and start clearing the game, while others don’t like the danger and spend their time crafting goods to support the ones fighting. And some… PK. become player-killers, that is.

As the name implies, it’s mainly swordplay, not sorcery, so there’s no fireballs, lightning bolts, etc. The game allows development of skills along many trees, but there’s no spoiler guide, so no one knows what the best strategies are, and some people may develop a skill that no one else is aware of. All the trappings of an MMO are present in the novel — sound effects, hit point bars, etc., so it will be interesting to see whether A-1 will animate it complete with the game effects, or just ignore them and pretend it’s all real. I hope it’s a mix — ignore it most of the time, but use it at dramatic moments, like the author does. Another thing the author does is occasionally jump back into the real world to show what’s going on there. (Well, at least once, but I didn’t read everything).

I’ve been hoping this would make it to an anime, but it’s part of a genre that usually does not do well. In this case, it’s origin is actually literary than game oriented (although a game is being made too), so it stands a chance of not being a total waste of time.

UPDATE: And Index gets a movie. To much to hope its the Sisters arc from Mikoto’s side. If I recall correctly, the next story up involves Touma going to France.

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