Sword Art Online [TV]
In the year 2022, the gaming industry has reached a new height after the development of the NerveGear, a helmet-like controller that allows the user to fully dive their senses into the world of virtual reality. After a closed beta with only 1,000 testers, the Virtual Reality MMORPG Sword Art Online is launched. The game takes place within a floating castle of steel called Aincrad where thousands of monsters are found in its 100 floors, and the players are given an array of medieval inspired weapons to use.
The story follows Kazuto Kirigaya, a reclusive gamer who was one of the lucky beta testers and the first 10,000 players to avail the official game. However, in an unexpected turn of events, the players find themselves unable to log out and return to the real world. After everyone was force teleported together into one place, the game master Akihiko Kayaba appears. He announces that the players are deliberately trapped inside the game, and the only way to log out is to clear the 100 floors of Aincrad. To make matters worse, he reveals that when an avatar dies inside the game, the player is also killed in real life.
Amidst the panic and confusion, Kirigaya accepts his harsh new reality, and starts his struggle for freedom with the help of his past beta testing experience.
About the Show
Sword Art Online is an anime adaptation of the adventure, action, sci-fi light novel series under the same name, written by Reki Kawahara and illustrated by Abec. Produced by A-1 Pictures, the anime series aired a total of 49 episodes (divided into 2 seasons), between July 2012 and December 2014. It has also been adapted into a movie, Sword Art Online the Movie: Ordinal Scale, and was based on by four different videogames. The light novel has sold over an estimated 19 million copies since its publication on 2009.
Kazuto Kirigaya (IGN: Kirito)
During his time in the real world, Kazuto Kirigaya mostly kept to himself inside his room and spent most of his time playing videogames. This reclusive nature did not change after he entered Aincrad, where he was branded as a “beater”, combination of the words “beta tester” and “cheater”. In order to save the other beta testers from hate and discrimination, he accepts the derogatory title, and became one of the strongest player in-game despite playing solo.
Yuuki Asuna (IGN: Asuna)
Initially a silent girl who did not care about completing the game, Asuna’s mindset drastically changed after meeting Kirito in-game. She eventually became more serious about the game, and developed a strong character. Asuna became the vice-commander of a strong guild called Knight of the Blood, earning her the respect and admiration of other players. This does not change how Kirito acts towards her though, who she found as very annoying.
Yui is a sweet little girl who was found by Kirito and Asuna around the forest inside the 22nd floor of Aincrad. Having no memories of where she came from, she assumed that Kirito and Asuna were her parents, to which the couple obliged. It was later revealed that Yui is not a real player, but is an AI instead. She was programmed to monitor the mental health of the players, to where she only saw grief, misery, and insanity.
Episode 1: The World of Swords
The VRMMORPG Sword Art Online is finally officially released for the public, but with only 10,000 copies available. Kirito, along with the other players, log in for the first time, and find themselves in the scenic castle of Aincrad. Having played the game before in a closed beta, Kirito effectively maneuvers around the crowded place, catching the attention of novice player Klein, who asks for his guidance regarding the game’s basics. Kirito obliged, and demonstrated the combat system against a boar, which they defeated later.
After playing for a few hours, they decide to log out, where they discover that they are unable to do so. Suddenly, all 10,000 players are forced teleported to a huge plaza, where the game master Akihiko Kayaba appears before them, in the form of a huge reaper. He announces that the missing log out option is not a bug, but is actually a game feature, which deliberately traps everyone inside the game. The only way to return to the real world is clearing the game, and that dying in-game also means death in real life. Akihiko disappears, leaving a confused and scared crowd. Panic and chaos follows, but Kirito quickly accepts the situation and starts to play the game ahead of everyone.
Episode 2: Beater
After only a month of the death game, a total of 2,000 players have already perished, and the first floor of Aincrad is yet to be cleared. Beta-tester Diavel organizes a meeting where he announces that his party has finally found the first boss room. The beta-testers were initially ridiculed by the novice players, saying that the only loot they can find are the scraps left behind by the experienced players. The novice players were confronted by a beta-tester who shows a guide book, made in collaboration with all beta testers, which helped save many lives. With the argument done, they proceed to plan their attack against the first boss, Illfang the Kobold Lord. Parties between players are organized, and Kirito meets Asuna for the first time.
The raid group that is led by Diavel arrive at the boss room, where Illfang and his minions await. They engage in battle, and everything was going according to plan, damaging Illfang into his final health bar. Wanting to acquire the bonus loot from the last hit boss kill, Diavel rushes to strike Illfang, who reveals a surprise weapon different from the beta test. Illfang strikes Diavel down and kills him. Kirito and Asuna rush together and successfully defeats Illfang, with Kirito giving the final blow earning him a special item. Despite having killed the boss, Kirito was blamed by most of the players for Diavel’s death, and brands him “beater”. Kirito disbands his party with Asuna, and proceeds to the next floor alone.
Episode 3: The Red-Nosed Reindeer
Kirito finally joins a guild for the first time, but does not reveal that he is way stronger than his guildmates. Their guild is called Moonlit Black Cats, led by a player named Keita. They raid the floors together, sharing their loots and dedicating it for the guild’s welfare. Kirito assists Sachi, a timid girl who is always teased by her guildmates for needing help most of the time. She later reveals to Kirito that despite their cheerful time within the guild, she still has the gnawing fear of dying. Kirito comforts her, and encourages her to stay strong, as they will work together through the game and eventually regain freedom. After saving enough money, the guild decides to buy a house, and Keita sets out to scout for a property to purchase.
Meanwhile, the remaining members decide to raid more monsters while their leader is away. They end up in the 27th floor, where they find a secret room containing a treasure chest. The situation quickly turns awful, as it turns out to be a trap. The room closes and an army of monster spawn, killing them one by one. Kirito fails to protect his guildmates, including Sachi. After hearing about his guild’s demise from Kirito, Keita commits suicide, blaming Kirito for their fate before jumping to his death. This devastates Kirito, who is now a solo player once again.
On Christmas Eve, he sets out to find a special event boss called Nicholas the Renegade, who is rumored to drop an item capable of bringing a dead player back to life. He encounters Klein on his way, who tells him that soloing such a boss is risky. Klein tries to convince Kirito to let them help, but Kirito refuses. A rogue guild who also wants the revival item appears, and Klein decides to fight them in order to let Kirito solo Nicholas. As he always has before, Kirito manages to solo kill a boss, obtaining the revival item. He discovers that it can only revive a player within 10 seconds after death, and gave it to Klein since it is no longer of use to him. Kirito returns to town and isolates himself inside his room. He receives a prerecorded message, made by Sachi back when she was still alive. Sachi reveals in her message that she accidentally discovered Kirito’s real strength, and that knowing someone as strong as him is in their guild encouraged her. She knew that she would not be able to finish the game, and told Kirito not to blame himself when the time finally comes. In the last part of the message, Sachi hums a Christmas song to Kirito, leaving him in tears.