Sword Art Online Episode 01 – The World of Swords (剣の世界)
This anime is abbreviated as SAO, that is about a world-famous Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (VRMMORPG) that uses NerveGear hardware. Kirito, the male protagonist of this series, is one of a thousand players who beta-test SAO. His real name is Kirigaya Kazuto.
On November 6th 2022 (Sunday), Sword Art Online is officially launch where 10,000 copies are sold out like hotcakes within seconds via online and all copies bought off the game shelves on the day itself. Previously, Sword Art Online promotional game trailer was published a week before the game is released. This has attracted the attention of many people especially hardcore fans who started waiting in line outside the shop for 3 days before the launch date.
In his bedroom, Kirito listens to MMO Stream Live as it talks about SAO released. While skimming through his game magazine, one of the page catches his attention. It displays a photo of a man dressed in white research coat with a brown tie, Kayaba Akihiko, the inventor of NerveGear and also a project director of SAO.
Accidentally, the sharp-edges of the paper magazine cuts his right thumb while flipping through the magazine pages. His little sister calls him from outside his bedroom, informing him that she is leaving for school club activities. Kirito turns off MMO Stream Live and wears the NerveGear helmet connected to his PC to power it up before laying down on bed.
He grins, closes his eyes and shouts “Link Start”. Immediately, rainbow of lights starts streaming towards him on the vast white background, followed by some of NerveGear technology checklist checking player’s touch, sight, hearing, taste and smell. A language option appears. Kirito selects Japanese as the main language. Kirito enters his beta-tester username and password. The game asks whether he would like to use his beta-test data since its available and Kirito clicks Yes.
Upon clicking, “Welcome to Sword Art Online” message greets Kirito’s eyes followed by blue cyan flashing lights, covering his entire vision. All of these dissolved into floating polygons above him. Kirito looks around him, his feet and hands, while listening to his heart beats. “I’ve finally returned to this world” he mutters to himself. More people starts flooding the place where he stands as they log into Virtual World of Sword Art Online.
1st Floor – Starting City – Marketplace (November 6, 2022)
The market is bustling like a bee with mostly teenage girls and boys who are chatting and making friends. Kirito runs through the market streets and shops to reach his destination. A male with pink hair who is window shopping notices his presence and quickly follows him while calling out to get Kirito’s attention.
Kirito stopped and waited for the man to reach him. After the man catches his breath, he asks whether Kirito was a beta-tester since Kirito travels throughout the town like the back of his hand. Kirito answers with a yes. He begs Kirito to show him the ropes on how to play this game. He introduces himself as Klein. Kirito takes Klein to a low-level training ground to teach him the basics of Sword Art Online skills.
1st Floor – Starting City – West Field
The gray boar with red eyes and red diamond-shape floating above it, hits Klein at his crotch, decreasing half of his HP (Health Points). As Klein rolls on the ground in pain, the boar lost interest on him and wanders off. Kirito tells Klein that he is overreacting and he should not feel any pain. The red diamond-shape indicates its a PK (Player Killer or Player Killing Entity) whereas green are non-PK entities.
He explains to Klein to use initial motion input correctly to activate a sword skill, only then the system will ensure the techniques connects. This is done by charging the sword before releasing it in a burst. While explaining, Kirito provokes the gray boar by hitting its back with a small pebble, charged up similarly to a sword-charging skill. The boar chased after Kirito, but he blocks its head-butt attack using his blunt-side of his sword.
Klein follows Kirito instructions carefully, positioning himself in an attacking stance while shouldering his sword. The sword charges slowly with golden glow and a beaming sound. When Kirito notices Klein is ready for his attack, he kicks the boar to change it’s target to attack Klein instead. As soon as Klein pointed his sword at the boar, instantly the sword technique connects. He slashes the boar while whizzing pass it, removing all of the boar HP before it explodes into little fragments of polygons. A reward window pops up, displaying 24 EXP (Experience Points), 30 Col (Money) and 2 Items received by Klein.
Klein shouts in joy as he defeated his first monster. They continue training till late in evening where skies are lit up by the golden sunset. Kirito and Klein take a break and savor the beautiful scenery at the lake while chatting about the game. Klein mentions that this is his first Full Dive in a Virtual Game where he rushed out to buy the NerveGear hardware just to play SAO.
Kirito asks him whether he would still like to continue hunting more monsters. Klein loved to but his stomach growls in hunger. He plans to logout to receive his ordered hot pizza, ginger ale and teriyaki at 5:30pm and login back after he his done eating. However, Klein isn’t able to find the logout button neither do Klein.
Klein calls the GM (Game Master) but there is no response. Klein asks Kirito whether there are alternatives to exit the game. The only way for a player to logout is from the menu itself since there isn’t any emergency logout method documented in the game manual. You can’t rip out the NerveGear helmet from VR (Virtual Reality) because NerveGear intercepts every signal that the brain sends to the body, preventing players from moving their bodies in real world.
Kirito says that they could exit the game if someone removes their NerveGear helmet in the real world or GM shuts down the server to force everyone out of the game. All of a sudden, they are disturb by a ringing tower bell, followed by a force teleport which sends everyone to the Central Plaza.
1st Floor – Starting City – Central Plaza
As soon as the tower bell stops ringing, a beeping warning sound indicates a system announcement is about to be made. The entire city sky is quickly covered with red hexagon blocks. Stream of red liquid starts leaking through the hexagon edges, converging into a liquid mass in mid air. Sparkles of electricity can be seen as it forms a red-hooded GM who had some slight appearance of a dark reaper. Some of the audience before him are terrified and some are just wondering whether its a GM, Game Event or Opening Ceremony.
The GM welcomes everyone and introduces himself as Kayaba Akihiko, the only person who can control this world. He explains that the missing logout button is not a bug, but an original feature of Sword Art Online. Players cannot logout on their own and no one from outside will be able to shut down or remove NerveGear.
Should this be attempted, the NerveGear transmitter emits a powerful burst of microwave radiation on the player’s brain thus ending their lives. Cutting off NerveGear’s power supply cable will not stop it from harming player since it has an internal battery. Kayaba mentions that 213 players have permanently retired both from Aincard (game world) and real world due to ignoring his warning message. News organization across the world are reporting on this incident and their deaths.
Kayaba enlightens the crowd that if they lost all of their HP, they can’t respawn in-game and NerveGear will end their lives. He consoles the players to relax and work hard to clear the game. Aincard has 100 floors where the first floor is the lowest level of the world. Clear each dungeon and defeat the Floor Boss to advance to the next floor. Defeating the final boss located at the 100th floor will free themselves from the game.
He asks the audience to check their item storage for a parting gift he has placed there. Kirito and others quickly look into it and found a mirror. Upon looking at their reflections, everyone were engulf in white blue flame. The entire central plaza is lit up brightly by the glow. Shortly after the light disappears, they notice their avatar has changed, reflecting their real life body. It took awhile for Klein and Kirito to recognize each other.
Kirito learns that NerveGear traces the player’s entire body with its high density sensor to replicate the face into Virtual Reality. Klein discoveres that the person’s height and body shape was recorded during NerveGear calibration by touching their body all over the place.
Kayaba explains the reason why he created Sword Art Online and NerveGear. He wants to create his own world to observe and admire, a goal which has achieved. He ends the tutorial and wishes every player the best of luck before he disappears into pixels. The red hexagon hemisphere disappears in a blink of an eye, leaving the orange sky to be seen.
Kirito recalls his memory, stating what Kayaba said was truth in the magazine where Sword Art Online is a game, but its not just something you play. Kirito thoughts to himself, that death in this Virtual Reality will also kills him in real life.
A girl drops her mirror and it breaks upon impact. She screams in frustration. The stun crowd returns to their senses and realizes their predicament. The momentarily silence Central Plaza turns into pandemonium with GM curses to let them out of the game.
Kirito quietly asks Klein to come with him while pulling his hand to a quiet area. He tells his plans to him that he is heading to the next village and asks Klein to follow him. Kirito explains that in this world, the resources (experience and money) are limited. They have to level up themselves as much as possible to survive. Starting City will be quickly depleted by the players here. For training efficiency, it’s best to set up a camp on the next village. Since Kirito knows the place well, he can safely take 1 person with him even though both are Level 1 (250 Health Points). However, it would be difficult if there were more than 1.
Klein politely declines his offer stating that he can’t just leave out his gaming friends who plays with him. He apologizes to Kirito that he should not be asking much favor from him. Comforting Kirito to not worry about his safety, Klein explains he previously led a guild in other MMORPG, which might prove useful in situations like this. Both gives their farewell and Kirito heads to the next village alone, killing enemies such as Wolf that stands in his journey.
1st Floor – City Hall (December 2, 2022)
By the end of first month, 2000 players have died but the first floor is yet to be cleared. Within city hall has a wall of player names engraved. Players who died has their name strikethrough with double red lines.