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Sword Art Online: “Just Don’t Think Too Hard About It…”




Even normally tolerant SAO fans have been stuck picking apart the innumerable plot holes and anime battle clichés the 23rd episode’s thrilling climax finds itself riven with – the conclusion being that “it is best not to think to hard about what you’re watching with SAO,” not the first time such complaints have been made…


Fortunately there are the usual stream of omake available to distract from excess analysis of the plot:



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  • I can’t find any plotholes that these people in the comments speak off. Everything is backed up, if it’s not in the anime it’s in the light novel… just go to a fucking Wiki and search your answer.

  • I’ve been saying this since Episode 2 or 3, I forget.

    It’s got some decent action, but everything else about it is really bad, hilariously bad in fact.
    SAO is pretty much the definition of “So bad it’s good,” which is why I’m still watching and enjoying it.

  • I hate action anime where only one guy is doing the action. Seeing characters get something done by REAL teamwork is a lot more interesting. It’s like I’m watching some fed carry in MOBA game, not interesting.

  • I haven’t read the light novels. As such, I’m thoroughly enjoying the anime. I’m deliberately holding off on reading the novels because I don’t want to ruin the experience I’m currently having with the show.

    Once the anime has ended, I intend to go back and read all the novels. I’m not sure how many people watch ‘Game of Thrones’ but for me it’s the same concept. I’m deliberately putting off the books so I don’t ruin the enjoyment I’m deriving from the shows.

  • I don’t know which plot you’re all talking about. And I mean that from at last first episode of this season.

    Anyway, at least they could’ve made an army of Caith Sith (and whatever boobs in green kimono is) attack the place. Isn’t it bizarre that there is only the Salamander clan en masse?

    • sao has plenty of plot holes. The novel had less because they at least attempted to explain them away. The anime skips a LOT of tiny parts that overall made the whole series a lot better. This episode was pure shit. Way too many cliches, leaps of logic, and unexplained shit.

      For example, as another use has said above, kirito didn’t get some sudden thrust attack. When Leafa gave him her sword, he started swinging like a madman and hacked his way through the wall of enemies. Another example is Recon. When they were healing Kirito and aggroed some of the enemies, he hit them with magic and pulled them off of Leafa. He then flew around keeping them all off of Leafa while she healed kirito until there were too many for him to handle, at which point he did the self destruct magic, blowing all of the enemies that were around him and Leafa. He didn’t blow a hole in the wall of enemies open like in the show.

      As for why they didn’t have an army the size of the salamanders (which they did, the salamanders attacked them with 50 or so people, and there were 50 sylphs and 10 Cait Sith on Wyverns), it’s because the Salamanders are the most popular race in ALO. They have more players than any other race, by a fair margin I believe. Also, it took all of their money to equip the 60 people they were able to bring. Both nations went pretty much bankrupt getting that raid together. Again, this was all explained in the novels — didn’t make it into the anime and left it all as a plot hole. Fuck A1.

  • Reality is they didn’t want to spend a lot of money making SAO and it shows with how much they didn’t adapt. The story was going lightning fast (skipping huge swaths) since the beginning. If anyone was expecting anything else then generic they were under a disasterous illusion.

    The beginning few episodes of SAO were great but they just decided to skip too much and make something light and fun to watch rather then a serious anime.

    If you’re looking for serious anime and haven’t watched it yet, check out Monster.

    • Agreed. The speed at which they are going through it makes it too “fuwa fuwa”. They skip or condense so many sections that it doesn’t really flow well together. Besides the obvious stuff, Sugu and Kirito spent only a small adventure together in ALO and not much else, yet she completely fell for him. It was still accelerated in the novel, but they spent some significant moments together learning about each other. And it helped to understand their thoughts as they traveled together, and why they did or did not say certain things. In the anime, most of the thoughts, which explain the characters’ rationals, are missing.

      They butchered the Aincrad arc’s ending this way (among others). Kirito knew exactly the moment he was going to die as a result of using the system’s assistance. It was a carefully calculated fight and knew it was over when he stopped relying on his own abilities. heck, it was after a long thought pattern that he even calculated who Heathcliff actually was and therefore attacked him. In the anime, he just looked at him and guessed it, then attacked suddenly. It was completely out of character. There’s no reason they couldn’t have put those items in the anime except for trying to cram 2 major arcs into such a short timeframe.

      Although…I’ll forgive them if they put all of 16.5 in an episode. Even an OAV on the BD or something would suffice.

        • @anon 00:08
          Thanks. I guess even if you make a valid point, people will still vote you down if they disagree. =.= Oh well.

          As for your question…unfortunately, no. The anime’s version was just – death -> rebirth? -> victory. The novel’s version didn’t give an explanation for the rebirth portion other than an overwhelming willpower and desire not to give up for Asuna’s sake. It’s still clichè, though. That was a disappointment since almost everything up to that had valid explanations. Personally, I don’t see why they couldn’t have had Klein use that item Kirito gave him in order to bring him back quickly – if Asuna broke the paralysis, then so could Klein after seeing Kirito’s death, right? Not great, but definitely better IMO and ties together his earlier actions to his revival.

        • @anon 01:39
          The anime ending of Aincrad was very different from the manga with respect to why things played out the way they did. How was Kirito so certain as to whom Heathcliff was that he launched a surprise attack with others around? In the anime, he didn’t. He never even thought of it until one little thing right before he launched the attack. If he was wrong, he would have committed murder, likely been killed himself, and basically devastated Asuna and the entire lead party. In the anime, it was a spur-of-the-moment decision, which was totally out of character for somebody who sees a VR world the same as the real world (another major concept that was glazed over in the anime). There are many more examples like that that leave you wondering “why did he do that?” in the anime adaptation of the story…so much so that it ruins the character development.

          Volume 1 is still my favorite as well, but the rest are “terrible”? No. If they were so terrible, you wouldn’t read or watch them. They might be disappointing in comparison to the Aincrad arc, but they’re still engaging and full of character development and a well -crafted overarching plot. Some items in ALO are a bit annoying – the convenience of Asuna getting caught right before logging out, dropping the card exactly to Kirito’s position, a certain holy sword, etc., but those are just plot mechanisms. The overall, large story is unaffected by those items. What is the meaning/purpose of SAO? IMO, it’s about being true to yourself regardless of the consequences or lack thereof. Live life the way you want to live it, regardless of whether or not it’s online, VR, IRL, etc.

        • yup, the fact is Kawahara is hot right now thanks to Accel World and SAO’s anime adaptations, but don’t confuse that with him actually being a good writer.

          put bluntly, he’s pretty damn terrible if you care about things like pacing, plot holes, characterization; basically anything other than Larry Stu protagonist writing.

          every issue people have had with the anime of both series pretty much exists in the original novels.

          he really does rely on that much deus ex machina.
          his antagonists really are that completely one-dimensional.
          etc etc.

        • No, actually. The ending of Aincrad was pretty much just like in the novel. If there was a flaw for the anime it was that they paced it weird with the reaper boss being a cliffhanger and then dying in 30 seconds next ep.

          The simple fact of the matter is that SA:O as a whole is pretty terrible as a story. The first novel was ok, even really enjoyable, and the ending of Aincrad actually manages to come out as a decent surprise (despite the foreshadowing that occurred during their duel), but everything after volume 1 is literally terrible. The sidestory volume uses the perspective of a number of female characters whose only motivation is to fall in love with Kirito at first sight, and then AO opens with the “Asuna is now locked in a tower” plot device because Japanese authors apparently can’t right romance without arbitrary separation. And here’s a little spoiler for you, but how does Kirito resolve the first AO arc? Bullshit superpowers, just like he did in Aincrad, only this time he gets a visit from Obi-wan’s ghost.

          And it largely gets worse from there. Later arcs will include forced drama as well as the rest of the missing character archetypes to fall in love with Kirito (childhood friend? CHECK). The plot and games will also get more absurd as Kirito’s hacking skills both increase and the games themselves begin to analogue the time distortion seen in Accel World.

  • I don’t know what people expect, it’s a shonen anime, it’s not going to be groundbreaking. It’s fun to watch and pretty. The start of the series wasn’t really original either, people whine for nothing.

    • Naruto is a pool of festering PUS. Naruto, One Piece, and Bleach should get together, fuck each other in the ass, and then fight to the death in one grand melee.

      SAO for all its flaws has Asuna and her tits, Suguha and her tits, and a whiff of the sweet scent of incest. It’s being rushed to meet an arbitrary episode cutoff. It’s just typical anime production bullshit. I’m still pissed off as hell about Airmaster — Goddammit.

    • If you like Naruto, that’s bad taste right there. People who kept saying Naruto or Bleach is the best anime out there and simply compare other anime with it, you have lost touch on what real anime is. I’ll stick to my Slayers or City Hunter, thank you very much.

  • This anime is like a Micheal bay film. All for visuals nothing on story. Good thing or bad thing, it’s completely up to the viewer. Now days I’m more into a well told story then visuals (which seems to no longer happen in animes these days).
    That being said SAO I enjoy for the visuals. Not a fan but not a hater on the story of SAO. Just think, it could’ve been worse. They could’ve made it like The Last Airbender or Dragonball.

    • I can’t explain the archers part…maybe that was not mentioned? It was still supposed to be an epic-scaled fight. I can overlook them not mentioning the archers since the idea was the same. As for the card, there’s nothing unusual about that. She’s an AI that knows how to use a system item. The “card” is just digital data – an access code in this case. She used that access code to open a door. I don’t see that as being far-fetched in the fantasy world (the same idea has been in video games for…decades).

    • mb the archers just didn’t appear?
      also if magically activate the card you mean Yui, well, she is an AI created for SAO, alfheim uses the same engine as SAO, the only thing that she didn’t have on alfheim was her admin rights, she took the code from the card and from there.

  • Innumerable plot holes and cliches…

    But instead of going into any detail just fuck it and look at some screen shots.

    If you’re going to bitch about the show you could at least put some minimal effort into it.

    • Well, since they’re innumerable…

      SAO is the kind of show that gets even more ratings than views. One way in which you can already say it is godly. But then the stunning thing is that whereas in most such cases the ratings are negative, it’s kudos all the way for SAO.

      So if there’s a weekly visual play-by-play here on sancom, and other recent gods like Nyaruko and Binbougami had got no less, you can get some insight into either site policy or their opinion on the qualities of the show via correlation, just pick the more independent variable.

    • agreed sankaku is afterall famed for talking more shit than a sewage plant deals with. there arent nearly as many plot holes in the story than most people seem to think. people should read the novels, and most of them seem to dissapear, not to mention, in works that have a seaquel you shouldnt expect EVERYTHING to get answered right off the bat.

        • I whimsy myself by sitting here and reading comments but I like animation over reading rather it’s better than the source or not. The fact of the matter is that even if this didn’t have a visual novel that made it what it is you guys would still be complaining like a bunch of babies. If you’re complaining about how cliché it is. Newsflash…nothing is new under the sun. The only big plothole I could even see would be the Slyph forefeiting their chance to go up the World Tree and as gamers and people who want to beat the game they wouldn’t devote all their resources to this one guy. Especially since this SAO but an actual game as far as the they know it.

          Other than that I don’t see the problem

        • The actual detail and ‘DAFUQ did you get here/happened?!’, moments in the Anime adaptation’s happenings are about the same if not almost on par with the Book… But still pretty unorganized like the average Joe not knowing the proper procedure on using a traditional mop; just whipping it all over the place making more of a mess than cleaning anything.

        • I have to disagree. There are some issues that don’t really add up, or are nice coincidences that work out just right in the novel. However, most of it is well organized. It covers a lot of the mentality of the characters, and the rational behind what they do or don’t say say. In the anime, they skip the vast majority of that so it’s appears to be a bunch of characters just being overly emotional most of the time and doing things that don’t really add up. We don’t know why they did what they did in the anime, so it appears disjointed or unorganized.