Although Rule of Cool is in play here, you have to wonder how the body of the players remain alive and functioning in the real world if their helmets can't be removed from the head without risking death and they're unable to have any contact with the outside world. While some people could probably get some IV's attached to them, such as Kirito since he lives with his mother/sister, there are other players living alone (such as Klein who mentions it in the first episode), who have no way of eating, drinking, or getting rid of bodily waste on their own. So unless time goes incredibly fast in the game world, such as "one year in the game equals one hour in the real world", many players should just be dropping dead simply because their body stopped functioning due to lack of food/water.
Because it's absolutely impossible for ISPs to locate everyone connected to the SAO server and forward the information to the government so they can provide medical attention — something that is explicitly stated in the novels.
Aside from that, it's amazing that any government would allow the GM to do something like this. If they die in RL, he's already a Serial Killer and you'd think cops would be barging in on his location.
It's mentioned in the novels that the GM is hiding out in a mountain shack in the middle of nowhere, with only one trusted person looking after him as he also takes part in the game.
Also, the GM informed the authorities, and gave a 2-hour grace period for the players to be moved to hospitals and attached to IVs.
That's still being a Serial Killer. He doesn't have motivation to do this outside populating his Utopia with people who can't leave, or they die. The cops should be knocking on his door if only for the fact that they could force him to either let them all go, or simply give a proper motivation as to why he set these people to be killed.
Oh, I imagine he's the nation's most wanted criminal. There's no legal justification for putting 10,000 people in a life-or-death situation without their knowledge or consent. But as stated above, he's carefully hidden himself away, and if I was in the government and found out where he was, I'd be worried about him just pulling the plug on the 6,000 or so players who are still alive if it looks like he's about to be captured or killed.
Plus, even if they do find him, what will they do? The GM is plugged into the game as well and is in no condition to be properly tried for his crimes in court, and he'll also die if he gets unplugged, since he rigged his own nervgear as well.
I assumed he had, or was at least suspected of having, a dead man's switch.
Has there ever been an explanation about what happens to the comatose bodies? I can't imagine thousands of people being kept on costly life support for 2 years.
Well, it's not like the government or hospitals could just say "No, we won't keep them alive." Could you imagine the backlash? Far better for them to just spend the money and avoid the public relations suicide.
They didn't need life support, just artificial nutrition and hydration, a catheter, maybe a diaper, and to be washed periodically. Their internal organs are functioning as normal, so while their muscles would atrophy from lack of use, they would be otherwise uninjured.
I don't really get why this is here. This is explained clearly in the books. The GM told the media the players were trapped in the game and explained what would happen if their helmets were tampered with. A few people tried, and those players died, so the public knew not to mess with it anymore. The GM gave the government a short period of time to put the players on life support, the government did this because they're not monsters. During the whole time, the GM was hiding out in the middle of nowhere and there was a massive manhunt going on. When the SAO players woke up, they had to go through months of rehab. It is Fridge Horror, but it's not a plot hole, it was explained.
The reason why this is being asked is some people may only know about SAO from the anime, which unfortunately glossed over all of this stuff. Asuna finally mentions something about this about halfway through the season (where she remembers when the game first started, and how a lot of people just collapsed for a few hours while their real life bodies were being taken to a hospital). But up until that point the anime didn't really make any attempt to explain how the player's bodies would survive, hence the confusion.
Glossed over or not, this is the most logical scenario and can be deducted rather easily without a detailed explanation. As we can assume that all 10,000 players are likely to live in a civilized world, why would any of them be abandoned by the services?
How did it even work?
How did the creator's plan ever get past step one? Red Flags should have gone up when the producers of the VR helmets noticed they have the potential to microwave the wearer's brain. He can't exactly make all ten thousand of them by hand!
Important details are missed all the time, and product recalls are not all that uncommon once the danger is discovered. There's also the equally likely theory that They Just Didn't Care and wanted to shove the product out as quickly as possible to maximize profits.
Also, he didn't need to build them all himself, since none of the workers would be able to spot the difference between a microwave scanner and one strong enough to melt a brain. Grease a few palms, show investors slightly altered blueprints, and you're most of the ways done. Removing the safeties and so on was all software, which is notoriously difficult to decipher of you're not the one who wrote it in the first place.
Besides, I'm pretty sure microwaves don't work like this. You can't be killed by a single microwave pulse because they work by vibrating water. Prolonged exposure would generate heat and cause burns, but people who had their helmets removed would live with no effects from any microwaves. With that, microwaves can't receive data any more than radio waves can, which is to say, they can't. Also, brains don't have specialized receivers for microwave data. Although the helmet would kill you after awhile of sustained play because of prolonged exposure to microwaves heating the water in your brain.
In addition to the damage heating the water in the brain might cause, the potential of it causing cancer would be tremendous.
It's a matter of scale. One watt of microwave radiation won't do much. A killowatt would kill someone fairly quickly. A megawatt pulse would do it nearly instantly. There is another problem though. They can't be used to scan individual neurons. That's like trying to tell what color something is with radar. The wavelength is orders of magnitude larger than what they're scanning.
They don't have to be able to resolve neurons. While a steady flow of low-intensity microwave radiation can be dissipated without consequence, a large pulse will cause centimeter wide hot-spots in the brain that can get hot enough to kill the neurons from excessive heat. Fevers of 106-108 Fahrenheit (42-43 Celsius) kill through that very mechanism. It's only a few degrees hotter than normal operating temperature- well within the capability of a tampered microwave scanner.
As far as I recall, they never said that the data was transmitted via microwave, only that there was a built in contraption that would fry your brain with a microwave pulse. The viability of that as a method of murder is another question however.
At the end, what's-his-face was said to have uploaded himself with a microwave pulse powerful enough to kill his organic self. This implies the microwaves were used for scanning. Also, what else would it be fore?
They were awesome, and there's no way it could be done without being capable of killing someone. You might be able to scan a brain with weaker than that, but you won't be able to give any input back to the user without something a lot more powerful. The technology was simply too awesome to abandon. And they probably went through a lot of work to make sure hackers couldn't get into it since they knew what would happen if it got into the wrong hands. They just didn't realize it started in the wrong hands.
They did mention that the modified version they made afterwards had extra safety features, although this may have been more to give the impression that it's safe rather than anything that could actually prevent it from being used to kill someone. I suspect it was mostly software. If it can keep your arms and legs from moving, it can keep your heart from moving.
Except the proximate cause of death was brain damage from overheating, not cardiac arrest. Autonomous functions were not affected so long as the player remained healthy.
Kirito's red diamond
Specifically: where is it? The only people he's killed were members of Laughing Coffin, but the game itself should still have him marked as a murderer. Despite this, no one in the towns ever treats him like someone they should be worried about. Where's the stigma?
That's actually a very common misconception. "Red player" is just a nickname the players use for murderers. The player marker never goes red; it's either green or orange, the game doesn't make a distinction between assault and murder. After a few days of not doing anything illegal, it reverts back to green. Not to mention that since most of the people he killed were orange, he might never have gone orange in the first place.
PKers get a Red Diamond, in SAO, like in most MMOs, PKers have some sort of indicator on them (ie , the skull in Runescape) Additionally, also like in other MMOs, you don't get a PK indicator for killing a PKer.
...no, no, that's incorrect. SAO doesn't make that distinction. See above bullet.
Perhaps it is different in the Light Novel, but the Anime specifically mentioned that a player that strikes a Green player turns Orange, and a player that kills a Green player turns Red.
Again: No, it doesn't say that. It simply says that "red player" is player slang for murderers. They never said the marker turns red. The anime just didn't explain the distinction properly.
Also, even if you attack an orange player, your marker remains green.
THIS. SAO doesn't actually have any sort of government- Kayaba is the only player with admin credentials, and he's not interested in actually regulating the game. An orange marker basically amounts to a writ of outlawry- anyone who has one is banned from towns by the AREA and can be killed on sight without repercussions.
From the wiki:
Players that have committed an infraction receive an orange cursor. An infraction is initiated typically by the first act of attacking a player in a non-safe zone. An orange color cursor will gradually restore itself to a green color cursor within several hours for the first three infractions committed. For the fourth infraction, the orange color cannot be removed unless the player performs a quest. After the fifth infraction, a player's color cursor will remain permanently orange.
Essentially even if you kill someone, if you wait long enough it will clear up, even if for only the first few times. Kirito even says as much when he confronts Rosalie.
So Asuna is such a Supreme Chef she can synthesize soy sauce. Okay, that's pretty awesome. My question is this: How in the hell did a Japanese game developer making a game for Japanese players forget freaking soy sauce in the first place? It's just...what?
It seems the "taste" feature was an afterthought, as they really aren't "eating", or getting any nutritional value of the meals they get, and everything that is store-bought seems to be rather bland. Another explanation could be that, since cooking is an actual ability to improve, the players that took the feature would be suppose to create the good flavors as yet another profession in the game(Apart from the "fighter", we also have Beast Master, Blacksmith, Merchant and even a Fisher. A Battle Chef doesn't seem too far fetched.
Not to mention if you could store-buy epic foods in the game there wouldn't be much purpose in maxing out cooking anyway.
Of course, but Asuna didn't raise her cooking skill really high and unlock the soy sauce recipe. She analyzed how the system synthesizes flavor and created something that simply does not exist in the game. The question was why it doesn't exist.
Actually, Asuna has maxed out the Cooking skill. But we actually don't know how it works, for all we know, part of the skill is to be able to analyze and combine flavors of *everything* in the game, without the risk of becoming a Lethal Chef.
Just because the game is Japanese doesn't mean the developers would have put a bunch of traditional Japanese foods into the game. The game is of course based on WESTERN medieval fantasy, so it's possible stuff tasted like boring western food. Beyond that, as others have said, it's possible that the taste thing just wasn't thought about far enough. The bland food is never mentioned as a problem in any of the other MMOs that Kirito plays, so it seems like an oversight in SAO.
Judging by everyone's reaction to the idea of eating that rabbit meat, I don't think taste was an afterthought. Although it's possible that everything was so bland that they went crazy for anything with even a little flavor.
It's implied that there are a huge number of artificial flavors items in the game, but none seem to correspond to real world spices/sauces. Asuna manages to figure out how to fake real world condiments using combinations of in-game flavorings. Which is pretty damn impressive. Her notes were, judging by the anime, extensive. As for why there is no soy sauce in the default game settings - it's a fantasy game and they decided to have made up spices and condiments. Nothing wrong with that.
So if they're trapped in the game, how is banning done? Besides the obvious murder.
I'm not sure what you mean. No one is banned from the game, because everyone is trapped. The only way to get rid of someone is to kill them or throw them in jail. We don't get any detail on the jails, but presumably the prisoners are just forced to empty their inventories (to make sure no teleport crystals) and are guarded by other players.
They were practically living their lives in SAO when they were there. So they weren't banned, instead they were imprisoned, just like convicts are.
There is a jail, but no banning system. In the novels, Kirito mentions, when he "inappropriately touches" Asuna, that she should have gotten the notice to send him to jail
The AREA does prevent anyone with an orange cursor from entering a safe zone.
Whatever happened to Kirito's regeneration? It seems like it just came up in the Silica story and then fell by the wayside. Is this better explained in the novels?
You mean "Battle Healing"? It's still there, it's just that at the rate it heals him, it takes 5~10 minutes for him to get healed from almost no health to full bar, so it's used for dealing with scratch damage and with accelerating his healing rate when he is resting. Regardless of the word "battle" there, it is not something very useful in actual battles. Or at least that's how it was in SAO. In ALO the recovery rate is changed, because he would be literally invincible had he healed hundreds of health every few seconds since their maximum health is in that range.
The usefulness of Battle Healing is like the health regen in Skyrim; good for keeping your health up after an occasional random encounter, utterly useless for surviving a boss fight.
It's also possible that, after he leveled up a few times, it ceased to be useful. If he has an order of magnitude more hitpoints, but it heals at the same rate, it could easily take over an hour to heal completely.
One also needs to consider how this was written in the source material. Volume 1 of the LN series skips from floor 1 to floor 74. Episodes 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, and 12 are all from side stories written afterwards (episode 2 is from a reboot of the series). The writing of the regeneration skill was some form of retcon, in that sense.
The need for a reliable internet connection
The rules state that if someone attempts a forced log-out, either by ripping off the helmet or shutting off the power, then the helmet unleashes the microwave pulse. So what happens if the internet connection goes down? Even high-speed internet can occasionally suffer from blips and brief outages, depending on the ISP. And if all the players are in hospital, then does that mean the hospitals all have high-speed internet with perfect reliability?
There's a ten-minute grace period in case of a bad connection, but yes, if it goes on for longer than that, the user is killed. Note in one episode Kirito asks Klein "are you lagging?" And Japan has very good wifi, across the entire country. It wouldn't be that hard to make sure the hospitals are perfect on that front.
One could say it thus becomes the ultimate test of reliability for ISPs. If you got through SAO without dying, congratulations, your ISP is actually good. And, as pointed out above, in Japan internet connections are somewhat more reliable than outside of it.
Not to mention that the governments probally made sure the hospitals had the most realiable connections.
"[D]isconnection from an outside source of electricity for ten minutes, being cut off from the system for more than two hours" are the rules. So the internet can be cut off for 2 hours at the most. Such a disconnect could still be fatal, due to the avatar emulating a ragdoll during that time period. If you were in combat at the time, you would very likely be dead or dying by the time your helmet reconnects.
The helmet can tell if you're trying to escape on its own. The only reason why the internet is necessary is to tell if you've died in-game. As such, even if it had a grace period of days, everyone could still be held hostage in the game.
It should also be noted that the story is set 10 years from now, and the reliability internet connections can only have improved in that time.
While it was undoubtedly awesome, just how did kirito turn into the Gleam-Eyes? SAO didn't have magic, so shouldn't his magic stat be really low?
Kirito turned into Gleam-Eyes in ALO, where he is a Spriggan Fairy who uses Illusion-based magic. He used a spell that turned him into a form of his choosing, and since Leafa had mentioned something about a devil before they entered the cave, it reminded him of the only devil-like monster he had ever encountered.
The spell itself is pretty basic (and thus Kirito could do it), but that is because it is limited by all of the other stats of the player using it. So Kirito, whose non-magic stats were up to the roof, could transform himself into such an impressive monster while most players would be limited to smaller (and not really useful, considering their main skill while transformed would be "Unarmed", which most people playing ALO forgo but Kirito had almost maxed out) things.
Okay just how was Sugou able to get to the hospital before Kirito with his injuries? While theactualinjuries didn't happen to his real body, wouldn't the sheer pain of it all had knocked him out or in need of heavy medication? This troper admits to neither be an expert in medicine, psychology, or whatever fields this fall into or have read the novels yet so can anyone clarify?
Presumably, he was already near the hospital in real life, or even logged on inside the hospital itself. I personally just assumed that he kept himself somewhere in Asuna's physical vicinity every time he logged on.
Can't believe I'm asking this, but if he was so close then, why didn't he already rape her?
Before his defeat, it was because he wanted to make sure she was completely broken. After, it was because his goal had shifted to "get revenge on the man who ruined my life despite the fact that I never did anything wrong." And he was being driven insane by the phantom pain of getting killed, which kept him focused on that to the exclusion of all else.
But how did he even manage to get there? Shouldn't the phantom pain have left him a writhing, flailing wreck or unconscious?
In the light novel, there's a throwaway line about "modern medication" and Sudou pops a few tablets into his mouth. Presumably, when he meets Kirito he's drugged up to his eyeballs with painkillers and running on adrenaline.
In Episode 4, a flurry of attacks by seven people for ten seconds straight leaves temporary red marks on Kirito but doesn't cut him at all. In Episode 10, he temporarily loses a hand. In Episode 24, he manages to cut Sugou's hand off, then cut him in half, and then throw his upper body in the air in order to deal the final blow. My question is, how did he manage to pull that off? Isolating this to Episode 24, Sugou should have had his HP depleted immediately the minute he was cut in half.
Cutting off Kirito's hand dealt some damage, but it it's not like it dropped him down to half HP instantly. We don't really know how much damage all those attacks did, other than that the last one killed him. It's a game; sometimes attacks do more or less damage than they logically should.
Then what made Sugou's case different than say, Eugene, who got comboed to his death but prior to, wasn't sliced in half? Or say, Kirito himself, when seven people threw themselves at him for ten seconds straight as he stood there (how he wasn't flinching can go into another discussion)?
The difference is that Sugou was sliced in half first. The game makes distinctions between what parts of your body are hit; what precisely those distinctions are is not made perfectly clear, but your hand's not gonna fall off if you get stabbed in the foot. Sugou was sliced in half, Eugene wasn't, that's all there is to it. When Titan's Hand attacked Kirito, he was somewhere around thirty to forty levels above them. They simply couldn't do enough damage to trigger the limb loss effects (you can't cut a diamond with a wet spaghetti noodle).
Eugene got cut through so many times, actually.
Fun fact: the novel mentions Suguou being cut in half, but only mentions Eugene being hit by attacks (therefore he might have been "almost cut in half", which would still not count as it in the game). Thus, blame it on the adaptation not being accurate.
Meeting other players IRL
After the original SAO incident, how did Kirito manage to get in touch with other players like Agil and Kline in real life? He found out where Asuna was because he traded information to the Government, but there's no explanation given for how he meets other players, other than Agil contacting him via Email, which in itself raises further questions.
Kirito got the contact information of certain players from the government, in exchange for his cooperation with their investigation into the SAO Incident. They gave it to him because they had been monitoring the server logs and know that Kirito is on friendly terms with them all. The reason that Asuna's information becomes such a bargaining chip is because he asks (at short notice) for the specific hospital that she's been admitted to, not just her email address.
How did Kirito get his hand back after losing it in Episode 10?
He probably used an item. They have something that reverses death (within limits), I'm sure regenerating a lost limb wouldn't be that hard. And he is one of the richest players in the game, and a member of one of the most powerful guilds, with a guild master who would know exactly where to get something like that. If it exists, he can get it.
"Body part loss" is apparently considered a status ailment along the same lines as paralysis. The novel specifically notes in that scene that it would last for three minutes. All he had to do was wait.
Test Subjects (Spoiler)
In the anime, did they ever bother to free the hundreds of players being tested on?
...yes? They even showed them all waking up.
If I remember correctly, Kirito and Asuna left at the first opportunity, without freeing the test subjects. They could have come back for them later, but besides the fact that leaving them being tested on longer than necessary is highly unethical, Sugo's underlings could have changed things. For example, they could have moved them to a different server where the public can't even log on. Which raises another question (next folder).
As I recall the button hit on logging out was to "logout all terminals" which would include the experimental ones I presume. Why Kirito and Asuna did not both vanish at the same time is confusing mind you.
Further test subjects spoiler
Why were the test subjects kept on the same server as the public, let alone the same playing field?
ALO only has one server, that's why. Sugou just painted over Kayaba's programming, he didn't really know how to do it himself. Also note his other lax security measures; any sane person would not allow the GM control panel to be even visible to non-GM's, let alone something they can interact with if a GM leaves the keys in. On the other hand, the brains were kept behind a horde of infinitely respawning enemies and a door that only a GM can open, so maybe the question is "Why did he leave Asuna anywhere near them?" (in which case we go back to the "Sugou is an idiot" point).
Sugou was not running ALO on the SAO server. He moved the players to a different server when they tried to log off. He couldn't have easily started ALO while SAO was still running. Even if he had to use a specific server, he could have prepared a second server for players.
It wasn't the SAO server, but it was the SAO code, papered over with different models, a flight system for the players, and a magic system. That's why the Heathcliff ID was able to give Kirito highest GM privileges.
Exactly. He could just run the code on more than one server. Or only run it on one server, but not give the public access to it. You'd only need special software for multiple servers to help people get logged on to the server of their choice. If there's only one server the public can access, this is unnecessary.
This was mentioned in Fairy Dance, Asuna asked the bastard why they were trapped in a public server and he said that it was efficient or something, that way he got his research and the company got their cash. Stupid, I know, but I don't think he really expected some 'kid' to suddenly acquire a GM card, storm his fortress, get buffed by his dead enemy, and trounce him.
Contact with the outside world
Did the players ever try to make contact with the outside world? If you fall asleep in the game, you fall asleep in real life. If you're put to sleep or otherwise drugged in real life, the effects will manifest in the game. Granted, it's kind of hard to tell if someone's sleeping when they're hooked up to a Nerve Gear, but they were in hospitals being monitored.
I have no idea what you're asking here. They had no ability to interact with the outside world because the nerve gear intercepts any non-autonomous brain functions, letting your heart continue to beat but keeping you from moving around in real life.
Your autonomous brain functions change when you're asleep. If the Game Gear didn't let them change, that would have serious consequences. For example, your brain waves change (this would be hard to check with someone wearing a Nerve Gear, but you could probably look at the bandwidth) and your metabolism changes.
Again: What are you asking? What does the fact that the brain acts differently when you're asleep matter?
It looks like I wasn't as clear as I thought I was. That is, I somehow forgot to say exactly what they could do. They can vary when they wake each other up to send signals to the outside. The outside world can respond by putting the players to sleep at different times. If you time waking the players up to within a minute, and have a six hour interval to wake them up, you can get about a byte per player per day. It's not a lot, but it can be useful. If you're willing to really abuse the player's bodies, they could have the outside world put them to sleep, then wake them up, etc. repeatedly. You could easily get a bit per player per minute, but I don't know how long you could keep that up without some serious consequences.
In that case: No, they never tried that. That's not really something most people would think of. And who knows if they even have some kind of sleeping potion thing in SAO that would let them fall asleep on command.
There were ten thousand people in SAO. It doesn't matter if most of them don't think of it. I guess the real question is if the author thinks of it. Also, they don't need to fall asleep on command. They just need to wake up on command. Or die on command, but that one's probably not worth it.
What would be the point? They already know nobody on the outside can contact them in return, and it's not like the players have anything to say that would materially affect any efforts to get them out. Why bother trying something so off the wall?
The outside could likely contact them by waking them up at certain times. It's feasible that the game gear would keep that from working, but they could at least use drugs. Once it's deduced that what's-his-face is playing the game, which wouldn't be too difficult once they know he's using the game gear instead of in jail, they might be able to force an early confrontation and use people on the outside world to cheat.
That... runs on some very tenuous assumptions. In fact, communication on both ends would require very tenuous assumptions. Yeah, okay, maybe somebody would think of trying to signal the outside that way. Maybe. Maybe somebody on the outside would think of signaling the inside that way. Um... how would anyone tell it was meant to be a signal in the first place? For outsiders looking in, would they really be likely to monitor players' sleeping patterns closely enough to even notice? And if they did, could they interpret the pattern? For players being "contacted" from outside, what, really, are the odds of them even suspecting sudden bouts of sleepiness to be a signal? And, once again, could they decipher a pattern if they did think of it?
There are thousands of people in the game, virtually all of whom have people on the outside that they wish to communicate with. Someone will think of it. The hardest part would probably be detecting the signal. However, if a portion of players is always waking up at exactly midnight, it wouldn't be too hard to notice if they ever look at sleeping patterns at all. It might not be obvious that it's a signal (though midnight is a strange time to wake up), but they could make that more clear at the cost of being less likely to be noticed. For example, they could send an SOS signal. If someone wakes up 83 minutes after midnight, then 79 minutes after, then 83 again, then 32 minutes before repeating, quite a few people would try to work out what it means, and once they guess it's ASCII, they will quickly work it out. Or people could just straight up send messages, and hope everyone will pick up on the 32 minutes after midnight thing. As for people being contacted by the outside world, the same strategy could be used, but only one of them needs to work it out. If you're sending a message, you know to look for the person sending one back. Deciphering the pattern isn't too difficult, so long as someone knows the code. It wouldn't be too hard to find a nerd that has ASCII memorized in the game, or at least the letters and space. On the outside world, you just have to look it up.
The problem with this plan is that it requires both sides to not only discover this means of communication exists, but that both sides create the same code system independently of each other. Not to mention the time it would take to send messages either way. If we use your SOS example, that's one person sending a message with no context over the course of nine days. Even if they decide to create a message using twenty-six people to correspond with the modern Latin alphabet, both sides would have to agree on which player represents which letter; and it would take minutes to hours for each player to display the effects of the drugs depending on how much they have in their systems.
One side decides on the code, the other only has to recognize it. This would be bad if there was no obvious code to use. Since there are a handful of them, people would only need to check a few ways of encoding the codes. All in all, it's probably not more than, say, five bits of information. That's enough to successfully crack the code in under a word. This is especially true considering the constraints on how you encode the codes. For example, if there are about 128 possible symbols that can be sent in the method being used, it's almost certainly ASCII.
One thing here: it's never been said that nobody at all tried. Someone might have gotten the idea, made preparations, signalled the message ... and failed because it went unnoticed, either because their brains always operate in sleep mode when they are in the game or because nobody noticed the signal or because they failed to recognise the message, or even because of any other reason.
Functioning in the Real World
It's explicitly mentioned that the bulk of the 10,000 were taken to hospitals to be cared for until they either died or the game ended. This covers the basic problem that while trapped in SAO, the players wouldn't be able to feed themselves or handle basic hygiene issues. But how were they able to function once they got out? That's two years of lying comatose in a bed. That would result in some fairly serious muscle atrophy, which would mean that every single one of the six thousand odd survivors several months in a wheelchair relearning how to walk. But Kirito was able to walk (Albeit with the aid of a makeshift cane) within minutes of getting out of SAO, and showed no sign of physical infirmity in the later volumes. How could that happen?
Kirito being able to walk was used to illustrate his determination. Other than that, we just have to chalk most of it up to advanced medicine making muscles atrophy slower and recover faster.
Was there any sort of mention of said medicine and other relevant technology, though?
Kirito mentions doing physical therapy, if any such medicine existed, it would be used there.
There are ways to stimulate muscles externally (for example using bursts of electricity, like in those training belts which are supposed to work on your six-pack while you watch TV). While we don't see what exactly is being done, we can assume that in a sci-fi story set in the future such problems can be partially overcome with medical technology, especially since it's a common medical problem.
Purpose of the Beta Testers
All right, I saw the first episode of the anime—is it explained later, or in another medium, why the game was released before the beta testers could even clear the game? Isn't the primary purpose of beta testing, you know, to make sure there aren't any Game Breaking Bugs that could crash the game at any point? If no beta testers could clear the game, it means there are areas in the game left untested for bugs and glitches. This benefits nobody, not even the game maker who trapped everyone in it. We've seen disastrous Obvious Beta examples in real life.
Aincrad has an AI that would be able to identify and fix bugs. The point of the beta testers was likely to get people interested in the game. And having no beta testers at all would have been a little suspicious, and Akayaba's backers might have started asking questions.
Akayaba only needed to get ten thousand people interested. He got far more. If Akayaba's backers were suspicious, he could have answered them honestly. Having an AI find bugs in the game is in no way related to trapping people in the game, so it's not as if they could have deduced his motives from this. Also, only partially beta testing it is even more odd.
Possibly Kayaba wanted an elite core of players that would help things get going. Episode 2 mentions how a lot of the noobs are getting wiped out due to a lack of knowledge about SAO and that the main counter for this was reading the guide book that was getting passed around. Said guide was written and published by the beta testers, making them responsible for a bunch of players surviving the first few levels. Also, the guy who first formed the proto-Assault Team was a beta tester, another one founded the game's eventual strongest guild and another was the game's hero by the end. Without the beta testers, Kayaba might not have gotten the narrative he was looking for.
Why did people play games made with the seed?
People weren't willing to play immersive virtual reality games after two successive fiascos, but they suddenly changed their minds when offered to play games made with the engine used for the first one, which could have easily contained some code to cause the fiasco all over again, or worse, it could have contained an upload of Akayaba.
No one knew about the upload of Akayaba; Kirito isn't the type to publicize things like that. And the second fiasco wasn't on the same level as the first; sure, the GM turned out to be evil and experimenting on people, but the actual players were fine, and in fact his experiments only worked on the older versions of nerve gear without the extra safety measures.
I thought somebody else told Kirito about the upload. Or was it that they just told him that he fried his brains, and Kirito deduced it was a destructive upload? Also, by not publicizing it, isn't he basically letting Akayaba get away with mass murder? Also, no matter how unlikely it is for Akayaba to somehow trap people inside games made with the seed, it's still more likely than him trapping people in games not made with it. You can argue that people shouldn't be much more afraid of games made with it, but they ended up somehow being less afraid. Anything that could go wrong before can still go wrong, but now other stuff can go wrong too.
Are we talking about the same thing? The upload of Akayaba that gave Kirito his GM powers and the Seed? Because Kirito was the only witness to that, though he presumably told Asuna about it.
He saw that, but I don't think he understood what was going on until someone told him about the Akayaba "committing suicide".
It's not that people weren't willing to play VRMMOs after that, it's that no large company wanted to try making one after those fiascos. Potential players weren't really afraid as the Amuspheres (which they started using to play VR games soon after the SAO thing started) were much more safer than NerveGear (in both the SAO incident and the ALO incident only players using NerveGear were affected).
Also, seeing as you might not have noticed, people could only use the Seed because Kirito gave it to Agil with the request that he checks if it's safe and makes it available to other people—who could also just download it and check that it doesn't contain any hidden evil GMs or other gems of similar sort—if it is safe. Thus, people could download it and create private servers, and since people wanted to play VRMMOs, there were going to be people telling others that it's safe after checking it, and the new equipment was much safer than the stuff that actually got people in trouble, people started playing those games.
Why did Kirito let Sugou have a sword when they fought?
Is mocking Sugou really worth the chance of letting Sugou win? Also, he did that right in front of Asuna, showing her that he cares more about his own ego than about her becoming Sugou's sex slave.
The point was that without his GM powers, Sugou had no chance of winning, even with the most powerful weapon in the game. Kirito could see his stats; he knew that. I suppose if things had really gone sideways, he could have cheated with his newfound admin privileges, though he might have fallen into Honor Before Reason and decided not to. The point is, he was fine. Sugou was literally zero threat to him.
How closely did Kirito look at the stats on the sword? He might not have had time to cheat. When it's vital that you win, even the slightest Self-Imposed Challenge against even the weakest opponent is completely insane.
Kirito pretty much had won at that point; certainly he didn't consider Sugou to even remotely be a threat to him. I think he was, at that point, aiming to prove to Sugou that he was, in the final analysis, nothing but a pale imitation, who -unlike Kayaba- couldn't do anything without cheating.
It was less about Kirito stroking his own ego, and more about utterly humiliating Sugou. The fact that Asuna is there watching is probably part of why he did it. Put yourself in Asuna's shoes. Wouldn't you enjoy seeing your almost-rapist being humiliated and broken down as a human being? As to the other part, remember that Kirito had Kayaba's GM powers. Even if Sugou wasn't incompetent, he still didn't have a chance against Kirito anyway.
It's about not being the same as Suguou. Maybe it was Honor Before Reason, maybe it was not. But remember the discussion Kirito had with Kayaba's ghost shortly before that—Kirito arguments that he, being a mere player, cannot win against a game master, to which Kayaba replies that such words are a mockery of their own battle where a GM gave a player a fair chance. And Kirito came to respect Kayaba regardless of what he did, while he loathed Suguou completely; thus, it's natural that when given the choice between acting like Kayaba (giving Suguou a chance to fight back) or acting like Suguou (using his administrative privileges to incapacitate Suguou), he would choose the former.
Sure, giving Suguou this particular sword was a bit cocky of Kirito. But one has to remember that unless Excaliber could fire blasts of absolute destruction—and it was doubtful that it could, considering that the sword was something the players could find in the game; heck, regardless of the fact that the anime skipped over this particular part, he saw the sword in the game with his own eyes—it was just that, a sword, and in the hands of someone who didn't know how to use it it did not matter how good a sword he was.
Police are never called?
So Sword Art Online (the game, not the show) ended. Kirito and almost every one of the surviving players woke up, and were so much a priority to the government that they received their own school for re-introduction to society. Now fast forward two months, when everyone has to be completely on edge over the 300 or so people still lost inside SAO, including the daughter of the company running things. Suddenly, Egil hears about and finds a screenshot of Asuna inside ALF, and immediately shows it to Kirito... Before never letting anyone else see it. Why. If Egil trusted it enough to give to Kirito, couldn't it have been given over to the police? Who could, easily, storm Sugou's department and force them to shut down the game, or at the very least pry details about why Asuna has been found in that game? Even ignoring Kirito rushing into the game to save Asuna himself, Egil should have had enough sense to go to the police himself... And considering the status these players had within SAO, the government would at least have a responsibility to look into it. Or am I just crazy for expecting anyone besides Kirito to be productive, in-game or out?
Two reasons: One, Sugou had three hundred hostages, and unlike Kayaba, he would have used them. More importantly, it appears that it wasn't common knowledge that Sugou was the creator of ALO. He probably did it through a couple intermediaries. The picture was all they had to go on, and giving it to the police would have just gotten the game shut down and the hostages either killed or moved to a server that normal people couldn't access. See the headscratchers above about test subjects and Sugou's security for more on that.
That... Raises a whole list of problems. First off, the second he started using hostages at all, that would become the point at which he could no longer keep up the pretense of just being a regular member of a company. Much less the respectable man that was allowed to marry an unconscious, unwilling heiress. Second, that doesn't explain how he could keep the police from temporarily shutting down ALF so they could conduct an investigation. The police, with no other leads to go on for two whole months and counting, would be tripping over themselves for anything that could lead them to the 300 that up until this point, weren't hostages, but simply "missing" people. Even if the police couldn't believe just one photo, that could give them a potential link to look into... Which would lead them to linking ALF to SAO.
There was a blurry picture of a girl that resembled one of 200 people who are trapped online somewhere. That doesn't prove anything.
A blurry picture of a girl who resembled one of 200 people who are trapped online somewhere, taken in a game that changes your appearance and has many NPCs to boot. That's almost less than nothing to take to the police.
This. A blurry screenshot is almost certainly not enough to even get the police to do more than yawn, and sure as hell ain't enough to get them to immediately storm Sugou's apartment or anything.
Exactly, you can make out that it's a picture of Asuna, but you can't see really what it's evidence of. It certainly doesn't amount to anything that would incriminate Sugou or even justify a search warrant.
There's something important to keep in mind here: Kirito wasn't sure it was Asuna either. All he knew was that he was completely powerless to save her in the real world, so he jumped into an MMO on the slim chance that he might be able to do something there. But he didn't actually expect to be able to, which is why he took his time getting to the World Tree, and took detours to save the Cat Sith and so on from the Salamanders. Until Yue got close enough to notice Asuna, he didn't have enough proof to even convince himself, let alone the police.
It's mentioned that married people share inventories. If this were a game, most people would probably respect that marriage should mean something (if a lot less than what real marriage means), but a few people would try to take advantage of that fact. Once everyone was trapped in there, it was all real, and the fact that married people share inventories is a fact of that world that can be taken advantage of. Fluff about what was supposed to be a videogame matters less. I would expect, for example, that people would try to share inventories so that their stuff doesn't vanish when they die. They could also do things like have the people in boss fights married, so that their spouses could send them limitless supplies of potions.
Who says they didn't? We only see two married couples, Grimrock/Griselda and Kirito/Asuna. They treated it as real, but other players might not have. Kirito has always been big on the whole "treat games as you would real life in order to avert GIFT" thing, so he's not the best example.
There are people in real life who do that too, you know; that is, who get married in order to make it easier to manage money, with no romantic undertones. However, even then they are generally close friends who simply don't see the need to get married and have children, and they get married so that they wouldn't be in the situation where there is nobody left to inherit their things. But there aren't many marriages like that, really; even if their feelings change later, the majority of marriages takes place because there were feelings of some sort.
A game from which you cannot escape, it might appear weird for us but it would probably be very easy for people to start treating it the same way they would treat their real lives. And going from that point, it's easy to see what's the most likely thing that would happen. Maybe there would be people not feeling anything but trusting each other enough to marry just because of that reason, but the majority of them married because they felt something towards each other. And when marriages of convenience are just a minority, it might be hard to notice them, the same way you usually don't see them in real lives.
How does the Nerv Gear know what length a persons hair is if the hair goes farther than it can scan. Such as Asuna. She has very long hair and the Nerv Gear doesn't cover near enough to scan it all. Shouldn't it have a preset length that hair automatically goes to when it's too long to scan it all?
It's part of how the rest of the body is scanned. When the device is first turned on, users are told to touch all over their body to teach the gear their measurements and proportions under the guise of "calibrations." Presumably, that includes hair length.
There seems to be an odd tendency to treat Sword Art Online like it was some kind of game. For example, while it's apparently public knowledge that Kirito married Asuna in Sword Art Online, nobody seems to respect the marriage. I don't know the details, but I'm pretty sure every government will respect your marriage regardless of where you get married. They were too young to marry in Japan without parental consent, but Japan should still honor their marriage if they get married somewhere else where it's legal, like on Sword Art Online.
A large part of what happened in SAO is not common knowledge. The general public treats it like the players were just in normal comas; note that a plot point in later novels is how none of the player killers were ever prosecuted. I don't know how Japanese law would react to minors getting married in a jurisdiction where it was legal, but I have a feeling in this situation it would be ignored, since everyone is trying to forget what happened. Not that it matters; Kirito and Asuna are perfectly willing to take things slow and not force the issue in the real world. They can wait a couple years to get married officially.
I only saw the anime. When Kirito, Sugou, and Asuna's father (I think) were talking, I think it was Sugou that brought up the Sword Art Online marriage. It wasn't Kirito. You'd think, even if they're willing to find a loophole to get Asuna married despite being in a coma, they'd at least consider the fact that she was already married to be a problem. If none of the player killers were prosecuted, that could be an argument for recognizing marriage, since it would imply that the player killers were not under Japanese jurisdiction, and therefore Sword Art Online was a sovereign nation.
None of the player killers were prosecuted because everyone wanted to forget about the whole event and pretend it never happened (plus, Akayaba got blamed for all the deaths, no matter the cause). And Sugou is hardly a good measure of how people would react to Kirito and Asuna being married. But it's not clear if he even knew the full details. He just mentioned something about how he knew they had a relationship, and didn't care. Asuna's father may have known, he may not, but technically Asuna was engaged before she went into SAO, so from his perspective the marriage would likely have been invalidated. But he isn't particularly known for being aware of what's going on—remember that Asuna hated Sugou, and her father didn't even notice.
He knew they were married, and he didn't make it sound like it was for minmaxing. What more detail do you need? How would an engagement invalidate a marriage. Wouldn't it work the other way?
Sugou said "I understand you had some kind of relationship with her in the game." No details on if he knew everything, or if he just knew Kirito traded information for Asuna's location. And the engagement is tricky; people who are engaged generally don't run off to get married to someone else. But SAO has no legal power to marry people from the perspective of the outside; you press a button and it's done. Something arranged by two families would be considered more important. Again though—her father probably didn't know. This is the same guy who thought Sugou was a friendly, bright little protege, and that Asuna was, if not in love with him, at least somewhat fond of him. Apparently she never got around to telling him the truth before she went into the coma.
The marriage was, technically speaking, a gameplay device; Kirito and Asuna considered it to be serious, but legally speaking it was just part of the game. The "characters" being married, not the players. Essentially a kind of roleplay mechanic. While those in SAO may have taken it seriously, because of the nature of the Incident, it did not actually have any legal standing, nor was it intended to.
Sword Art Online was not a game. Things that happen in it are not gameplay devices any more than gravity is a gameplay device. The governments within it were real. Insomuch as they respected the "gameplay device" as proof of marriage, it was every bit as meaningful as whatever paperwork other governments use.
To the people outside SAO, it was just a game that they all wanted to forget ever happened. They didn't go after the murderers like Grimrock or Laughing Coffin, and they didn't pay attention to in-game marriage. Maybe they should have, but they didn't. What's so confusing about this?
There are several issues here: 1. Whether or not real world governments recognize the validity of marriages within Sword Art Online, and it is likely that they wouldn't considering that establishing basic things like consent, intent, and witnesses are dubious. 2. While betrothal and engagement are colloquially used interchangeably, there is a legal difference between them: a betrothal is considered binding, such that neither party is free to marry another while it is in effect. 3. Consent is required for a valid marriage, so it is impossible to marry someone in a coma. While this would invalidate any putative arranged marriage, it could also be reasonably interpreted to invalidate SAO marriages by virtue of the fact that the parties were comatose when they contracted the marriage (see point 1). 4. Does the jurisdiction in question recognize Common Law Marriage? If so, the couple could, on awaking, simply declare that they are married, and that's the end of it.
1. How are they dubious? Is there some suspicion that the Game Gear has mind-altering effects similar to drunkenness that would prevent consent? Is there any reason to doubt witnesses on SAO? 3. seems to be a subset of 1.
There is a question if there would be two living witnesses to any given marriage to prove it. Intent would be the most dubious question: Can a marriage that was intended as a game mechanic be honestly construed as valid? Precedent says no, but something with the technical scale as SAO has never been implemented before.
The marriage mechanic is more akin to a wedding ring than marriage. It's just something that the players decided to signify marriage. While I assume the mechanic has been used for other reasons, the times it was shown on the show where all clearly marriage.
Marriage in MMORPG is not uncommon, and there wasn't any legal issue about that, since only character marry, not the player. And since VRMMO was fairly new, in the novel, the government still have to do a lot of research on society effect of the game and doesn't seems ready for make law concern this matter yet. So mostly what happen in game does not concern government at the moment, unless player bring in-game issue out, which they will be tried under law.
In episode 2, Kirito is called out for being a "beater" (Beta cheater) when revealing that he got farther in the game and thus gathered more knowledge than the other Beta testers. Assuming he didn't just make that up to calm the fighting, how exactly does him having been better than the other Beta testers translate to him being a cheater?
That is what it means. You ever played sports, where people will insist that someone who is too good simply must be cheating? That's basically it. It's not clear if people seriously think he was hacking the game or peeking at a GM's notes or something (probably not; they would have asked a lot more questions if they thought that), but the point is they think he's an elitist ass who's only out for his own benefit. Kirito plays it up to take the heat off the other beta testers. Nothing unites people like a common enemy, after all.
Klein mentions this when discussing why Kirito kept his dual-wielding a secret. He acknowledges that a lot of players would get pissed at Kirito for having a skill that no one else has rather than accepting that that's how the game works.
Quests & EXP make no sense in Aincrad.
Okay, so, early on there's a line of dialogue about how Kirito took all the easy quests and left none for the others. So, that implies that quests are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Well, if that's the case, how can Kirito offer someone (I think it's Asuna) help doing a quest. That implies that he knows how to complete a quest that she wants to complete: therefore indicating that quests can be done by anyone. And, if he can undertake it, that means they're replayable, which means... Oh God, I've gone cross-eyed. ... And another thing. Even if this is actually the case - even if quests are one-time-only - why doesn't everyone just massacre NPC's if they were so worried about their levels? They give experience and they respawn. That sounds like a level grinder's dream. Okay, they look human - but they're all gamers here. They must have blown up a few human enemies in RPG's before.
We don't know how the respawn mechanic works. Considering the fact that Aincrad is supposed to be a liveable world, the respawn rate is probably much longer than normal even for low-level enemies; at least an hour, possibly as high as a day. That would give beta testers a huge head start. Likewise regarding the quests: In most MMO's (and remember SAO was written in 2000, before World of Warcraft), while an unlimited number of people can grab a quest, there's a limited number of the monsters they need to kill who will drop the item they need or whatever. It's mentioned that beta testers took all the good hunting spots—which probably means they just camped out near the spawn points and fought off anyone who got too close. And, since they had a head start, they were high enough level to just fight off the normal players. Finally, there's no sign that killing NPC's grants EXP. It usually doesn't.
It was also mentioned somewhere that quests are classified into various classes, there are those that reset after a given time, and there are those that are one-time only. What gave you the idea that killing NPC's gave EXP?
Quests/monsters respawned. It just took a long time for most players to gain EXP because there were going to be somewhere around 9,000 players all trying to kill monsters in the beginning fields. The beginning players would be unable to safely leave the beginning fields until they leveled up due to their inexperience. The extremely high density of players means that until players began getting a higher level and spread out, it would be very difficult to kill even a single monster (Just imagine playing a MMO and having 9,000 other players in the same hunting grounds as you). The Beta Testers knew all the best places to farm items/EXP and they didn't share the information with other players. They didn't necessarily need to fight off other players from their hunting spots because they were the only ones who knew how to get around safely at a low level. Eventually, these locations would be "discovered" and would draw in a lot of players so that, while it had a high reward, ultimately it would become inefficient to hunt there (or to "defend" it from the other players). The knowledge of these quests/locations is what the players were angry about because the beta testers farmed these quests and quickly leveled up early on, while everyone else was stuck killing maybe one or two boars a day. This probably led to people trying to level up more quickly by leaving the beginning area only to be quickly killed because they didn't have the right knowledge or a high enough level to survive. Killing NPC's would not net anyone EXP (plus it might not even be possible because most NPCs are in towns so either (a) they are <immortal objects> or more likely (b) their health cannot be reduced inside a safe zone by other players).
Sugou marrying Asuna
How could Sugou hope to marry Asuna while she was trapped in ALO? You can't claim a person consented to marry when she was provably in a coma on the date of the wedding (And the concept of marriage by proxy went away centuries ago), and if he let her out, Asuna would refuse to marry him and do her best to call the cops on him.
Well first off, he only planned to let her out once he perfected his brainwashing software, at which point her consent (for a certain value of the word) is a non-issue. Second, they were in an arranged marriage since before she went into the coma; Sugou notes that if her parents knew how she actually felt about him, they would have called it off in a heartbeat, but presumably she never got around to mentioning it before she was trapped in the game. Whether that legally counts as consent is very fuzzy, and if I were a judge I certainly wouldn't allow it, but Asuna's father is rich enough that he can make it happen (and enough of a Horrible Judge of Character to think it's a good idea).
In the anime there was a throwaway line about how the marriage would not be officially recognized, but nevertheless the ceremony would make him a family member in the eyes of the family, getting Sugou the power and influence he desired. He probably also referred to it as a marriage to antagonize Kirito.
Locking up Yui
What sense does it make to lock up the psychotherapist under the conditions when she'd most be needed (i.e. we're trapped in a death game indefinitely, and we have to beat a hundred bosses in order to escape)?
You need to remember that Kayaba didn't create Yui—Aincrad's AI did. Presumably, it decided to create a therapist program because, you know, being trapped in a death game depresses people, and when Kayaba found out about it, he had her locked away because he didn't want anyone interfering with the players. I imagine he kept her where she could observe the players (rather than just deleting her outright) simply so that she could gather data that might be useful later.
Fairy Dance's climax
There were four things unclear here:
How did Kirito get access to Kayaba's admin account?
Kayaba's digital ghost gave it to him.
When? Kayaba never said anything about it during their talk.
How was Kirito able to use Kayaba's admin account when he was already using an account of his own at that point and the only way to have done something like that would have been to do something like merge both his and Kayaba's account?
That's making a big assumption about the way accounts work in this system. There are ways to operate two accounts (or more) at once in real life; it's not that complicated.
Yeah, multiclienting. But multiclienting in a VRMMORRPG? How would that work?
It seems like you're confusing Administrative account with Game Account. You need multiclienting in order to access another game account (like the one Asuna did in vol.7),but it seems that anyone can access administrative account to give them Administrator rights, as long as you know ID and password to access it. And it works by changing your ID number (which determines your user level, whether you're user, GM, or Admin in server database) to 1 (the highest level, which gives you Admin rights).
I'm not qualified to comment on most of that, but you've got part of it exactly backwards: 1 is the lowest level, not highest. Note that "1" is the level Kirito sets Oberon's to, and Oberon promptly loses all Admin privileges.
How did Kirito activate Kayaba's admin account without something like a system console?
The Heathcliff account is designed to be used by someone trapped in the game along with everyone else, who likely won't have access to a system console. Basically, it comes with its own console, without the need for a specific location in the game world. Note that Sugou was doing the same thing moments earlier; the lower-level GM's were the ones who needed a specific console.
Voice command. Like the one Kirito used for creating Excaliber.
How did Kirito get access to Kayaba's admin account without a password?
Kayaba gave him automatic access. "Account code: Heathcliff" was the password, but more along the lines of an activation phrase than an ID code. Kayaba tied to it Kirito; if Sugou (or Asuna) had tried the same thing, nothing would have happened.
But he never said anything about it during the talk.
Kirito did use a password; the novels mention it, but don't specify exactly what the password was, which is presumably why the anime omitted it. No, Kayaba never actually said it in their "talk", but the novel gives the impression that Kirito is reciting something Kayaba is saying in his head.
In one of the Aincrad episodes (and the light novel, I believe), Asuna mentioned that her brother had purchased SAO, but got called away on business before he could play it, and she joked that he probably wouldn't be happy that she was living in his game for two years. Does Asuna have an actual older brother, or was this referring to Sugou, who I believe is referred to in the beginning of the ALO arc as something like a brother in the Yuuki family (if I remember right)?
She means an actual brother. I don't think he's actually appeared to date, but he gets referenced every now and again. Volume 7, I believe, also brings him up, and considering Sugou is long since in prison by that point...
He's also mentioned in the SAO Progressive manga, in a way that implies he's still living with the family (since Asuna was able to try out his game on a lark).
Kirito and Asuna at the end of Aincrad
Why didn't they attempt to log out? Clearly, they're still alive, and still in the game, so why don't they log out while they still can?
As I remember it, when Kirito checked his menu after Heathcliff's defeat, the only thing to be seen was the countdown to Aincrad's full deletion. Log out button wasn't there at all.
The reason for the death game
I still don't understand how Kayaba's plan to make Aincrad float necessitated trapping 10,000 people inside the game and killing the ones who are defeated. If it were only that, then letting the game launch as normal should have been enough for him. What was the real reason?
He doesn't remember. He claimed at the opening ceremony that he wanted to be god of his own world (one of the key features of gods in most religions is power over life and death), but it seems like he was lying in order to pump up his image as the Big Bad of the story. In the end, who knows? He had a dream, he made it a reality. He realized how much damage this would do to other people, and did it anyway. That's really all there is to it.
He doesn't remember his exact motives, no, but there is a very specific reason for invoking the Death Game: a world without death is not truly real. Kayaba didn't merely want to create a facsimile of the Steel Castle in the Sky he'd always dreamed of, he wanted to make it real. Not having true Reality Warper powers, a game wherein logging out was impossible and death meant Final Death was the closest he could come. A twisted idea, perhaps, but actually logical from a certain point of view.
Mental Health Counseling Program Boss Fight
Okay, am I the only one who thinks Mental Health Counseling Programs fighting the players is stupid? I haven't played the game to find out how it happens, but the premise just comes off as stupid. These are Yui's sisters, for crying out loud!
Wait, what? Where exactly does this even happen...?
In the PSP game, on the 100th floor.
Considering you haven't played the game yet, maybe you should save your questions for when you do. Kayaba said he was the boss on the 100th floor.
The events within SAO are a secret?
Why are they not supposed to talk about what happened inside SAO?
It's an extension of Japanese politeness and social norms. Talking about personal things to the public is a big no-no. Combine with the fact that Kayaba got blamed for all the deaths, and there's a perfectly legal scapegoat for everybody to pin the blame on and just forget about it. In addition, the only witnesses to the last fight were Kirito and his friends and their friends. Kirito is very private, even for a Japanese man, so if he asked them (and the government, for that matter) not to mention his name, they would. It could be that a bunch of other people are going on talk shows or whatever and babbling about everything (which I find doubtful, but it is possible), but they don't know about the stuff Kirito was involved in, and the story doesn't focus on that.
Sugou as heir to RECTO
Why would Mr. Yuuki want Sugou to succeed him, rather than his own son?
We don't really know anything about his son. Maybe they have a bad relationship, or maybe his son just has no interest in the company, and his father respected that. It's probably the latter (or at least Mr. Yuuki thinks it's the latter). He's been shown to dote over Asuna, while also being a bit oblivious to what she actually wants. Maybe it's the same way with his son.
So, Akihiko Kayaba is responsible for the deaths of almost 4,000 people by the end of SAO. This is an impressively high body count even for anime and easily pushes him into Complete Monster territory. Given that, his characterization as some kind of Anti-VillainMad Scientist in the second half of the anime REALLY bothers me. Even if we are pushing A Million is a Statistic to its limits, did Kirito forget that this man is responsible for the death of his first girlfriend? What happened to never forgetting about their deaths? I found the ending to Fairy Dance, with Kayaba so deeply involved as this spirit/mentor figure, deeply upsetting.
Simply put, Kayaba is a sociopath, and anyone who spends five minutes with him knows that. Not a Hollywood Axe Crazy murderer, though, just an extremely realistic portrayal of a man with a complete Lack of Empathy. He just sort of...does things without worrying about how other people would react, because he has difficulty treating people as people. He created Aincrad not because he wanted to watch 4,000 people die, but simply because he wanted to create Aincrad. It's hard to hate someone like that. It's like hating the fire that burned your house down. There was no malice in it, it was just acting according to its nature. Finally, the fact that the game ended with his death (and that this was always intended) gets him a decent amount of respect; unlike Sugou, he played by the same rules he forced on everyone else. However, note at the same time that this is all from Kirito's point of view. The rest of the world blames him for everything that happened in the game (which has the unfortunate side effect of letting people like Grimrock get away with murder).
(original poster) I get that, I guess, and I suppose it's fair to say that Kirito wasn't going to turn down anything that helped him beat Sugou. It just bothered me how they seemed almost chummy in that moment— I felt like Kirito should have been more angry at Kayaba, sociopath or not.
Look at it this way. When Darth Vader chucks the Emperor down the bottomless pit, you cheer (or at the very least, feel a sense of satisfaction). And Darth Vader is way worse a person, in word and deed, than Kayaba up until that point. But when you pull off one final, sort of redeeming, at the very-least non-asshole maneuver to help the hero defeat an even bigger asshole, you can expect a little glossing over of how much of a bastard he was up until that point.
You don't "gloss over" mass murder. Serial Killers IRL often get the death penalty, and the families of the victims don't shrug and say "well, we can't blame this guy for doing what he did. He's just a sociopath." Sometimes killers turn themselves in and confess, but that doesn't make them any more sympathetic. (OP) You can't compare the actions of a human being to the actions of fire. Human beings have free will, with the ability to choose, whereas fire does not. Kayaba chose to commit mass murder, and being a sociopath does not excuse what he did, make it right, or mean that we should view him in a softer light.
Another thing to keep in mind is that SAO, in addition to bringing him together with the love of his life, more or less defines Kirito. As horrible as those events were, as many people as died in it, Kirito and Asuna are both open in being glad they were part of it. A monster Kayaba may be, but he was still responsible just as much for the best in Kirito's life as the worst.
That makes Kirito come off as selfish, like he doesn't care what happened to those 4000 people just because he got something he wanted out of it.
There's also the fact that Kirito has been dealing with Sugou for a while, who is much worse than Kayaba. Add that to the man having just saved his ass and it's not terribly unreasonable for Kirito to refrain from raging at Kayaba, though in my opinion he should have been a little more outwardly angry.
Okay, bear with me now because I might sound rude, and it is going to be long.
First, Kirito blames himself for Sachi's death. Not Kayaba, not other players, not the monsters, but himself. This is why Sachi's message rattled him so badly, because she told him that she doesn't blame him and doesn't regret him even though he "knew" that it is his fault.
Second, while they were living in the game Kayaba slipped behind Kirito's notice, and the same thing happened to many other players too. Oh, sure, he was the reason they were trapped in SAO, but now they had SAO to survive and maybe even clear, not Kayaba who was "somewhere". That means that after some time, many of them would grow naturally apathetic towards him as far as this game is concerned, because while it is his fault, it "just happened". Remember, two years, many people would forget about it and then start feeling like this even in normal life.
Third, Kirito talked with Kayaba after defeating him and winning the game, and while he might have harboured some negative feelings towards the man, there is no denying the fact that he agreed with Kayaba's reasons just like that. The man who created this world and saw it being destroyed did not harbour any ill will towards the one who caused it to perish, as an individual he was fairly amicable.
Fourth, Kirito pretty much died when he killed Kayaba. And yet, he was still alive when he talked to him later. And then he thought he will die when Aincrad is completely destroyed, only to awaken in the real world. "Why?" is the question he likely asked himself many times, but there aren't any answers he would know. Though there is one fact: had Kayaba wanted to kill them, both him and Asuna would have been dead, and yet they were alive; thus, Kayaba had not wanted to kill them. The only possible answer then would be the one provided by Kayaba to Kirito, the one about wanting to create a game which would be real and the "death game" part being merely a requirement of it and not something he did for no reason.
Fifth, Kayaba might have put people in this death game of his, but we have to remember one thing: we have not seen any situations in the game where death would be completely unavoidable. Oh, sure, there were situations like the trap Kirito's old guild fell for, but that's it, it was a trap, and it could be avoided by simply not triggering it like a bunch of fools. And how many players died because of player killers (like the Laughing Coffin) or because they just couldn't take it and decided to kill themselves instead of waiting? Yes, Kayaba is guilty of putting ten thousands of people in danger, and being an indirect reason of death for a few thousands of them, but it is not the same as being guilty of committing murder, regardless of how people outside of the game see it.
Sixth, just how many lives were saved because of Kayaba's actions as Heathcliff? Oh, sure, it undoubtedly was less than the number of people who died because of his actions, but still, even if it was out of boredom, he went out of his way to help people clear the game.
And seventh, there is the fact that Kirito could compare what Kayaba had done to what Suguou was doing, and that comparison made it clear that whereas Suguou's actions were known to be immoral and horrific, Kayaba's actions were ... just questionable, really. A solution where everyone got out the game alive existed, and had the players not been selfish and/or distorted it would have been a possibility. Meanwhile, everything Suguou did was based on lies, even the main quest of the game.
With all of the above, no, Kayaba is not a Complete Monster. Oh, sure, he was an antagonist, a "villain", but he was not evil, not even close to that. If anything, he had an unusual (or maybe not so unusual ...) dream and a weird way of fulfilling it, but there was no malice in what he did; he just chose to pursue his dream no matter what other people thought about it. Can you hate someone like that?
Well, yes, you can. But it does not mean you have to. Kirito did not hate the man, even if he did not trust him. And that is why many of us can accept the fact that Kayaba helped Kirito once near the end of the Fairy Dance arc; they were never enemies to begin with, just on the opposing sides, so now that Kayaba no longer had to fight, helping Kirito once in exchange for the possibility of Kirito doing that one favour to him (helping with the Seed, that is) seems like something he would do. Especially since Kirito was the one who proved to him that humans could go against the system, the one who proved himself to be higher than Kayaba, and yet he was now laying and feeling like he had no way to go against someone as pathetic as Suguou; if anything, had I been Kayaba, I would have felt insulted by that and helped Kirito too, even if nobody asked me to.
That, and well ... Kayaba did make it known that he knows Kirito does not trust him. And yet he still trusted Kirito to make his own judgement about it. He pretty much trusted the man who killed him and destroyed his world enough to ask him for one last favour; that speaks volumes about what sort of person Kayaba is, and why Kirito decided to use his help.
More bluntly, what Sugou was planning was a threat to the entire world. Kayaba threatened the lives of 10,000 people, but Sugou's plans would have destroyed the humanity of millions or even billions of people. If anything, he underestimates the potential of his experiments, and he knows that his buyers intend to kill or zombify large numbers of people, and he's willing to go through with it because they're willing to make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. What would we think of someone who invented a weapon of mass destruction not with the intent of ending or preventing a war or to protect his country, but rather to sell it to anyone willing to pay his asking price? Sugou's stunt probably qualifies as treason.
And again: Kirito is the one who treats Kayaba as something of a Worthy Opponent, and since we see the story almost exclusively through his POV, that's how he comes off. We don't know precisely how the rest of the world remembers him, but the fact that he is explicitly blamed for everything implies pretty heavily that his name has been blacklisted at the same level as your average war criminal. Kirito, Asuna, and some of the other people involved in the final boss fight are the only ones with the perspective of "Okay, he shouldn't have done this, but some good came of it, and he's still not a bad person."
All the above, more or less. To try and put it more simply: Kayaba was, indeed, a monster, but a very detached, impersonal one; while you can call him evil, purposely malevolent he very much was not, and while his means, obviously, were not at all sympathetic, I will state myself that I to a large extent concur with his motives. He was also, as pointed out above, genuinely affable. Sugou, by contrast, had only a very thin veneer of affability over the slimiest personality this side of an oil slick, was very directly antagonistic, and was malevolent to the core of his withered soul. On top of which, as bad as mass murder is, mass Mind Rape -maybe even to the point of mass Death of Personality- is easily argued to be much, much worse. All Kayaba would do was kill you, and that only after giving you a fighting chance. Sugou would inflict a Fate Worse than Death with a gleeful cackle whilst pinning you like a butterfly in a bug collection with GM haxx.
Apart from all the above being plausible reasons for Kirito to have personally forgiven Kayaba and/or at least come to logically understand Kayaba's motivations for doing what he did (whether they seemed "chummy" or not is up for interpretation), it should also be mentioned that:
1. Kirito's girlfriend was about to be molested right in front of him, not to mention later on in real life, and Kayaba was giving him the only available option to stop that from happening. From the moment he and Asuna fell in love, she had been his number one priority, so it makes complete sense that he wasn't about to turn down that kind of help, even if it did come from the man who kept them imprisoned in a virtual setting for years and set in motion the events that led to the death of several thousand people. Accepting Kayaba's help at that point wasn't going to get anyone killed, but it could save Asuna, so he had to take it. (The seed given to him later, he could've refused on principle; but even when he accepted it, he didn't just take Kayaba's word for it— he had it checked for any dangers).
2. It's also something that happens in real life. Many people who are assaulted or raped, or otherwise go through some kind of traumatic experience caused by someone else, decide to not take action (legal OR emotional) against the people who hurt them, simply as a way to be able to move past the horrifying experience and not have to think about it ever again. Taking whatever good parts there were but relegating the bad parts to the back of their minds so they don't have to feel the pain again. Sure, in this case it sounds selfish to want to forget, considering that 4000 people died, but Kayaba was already dead by this point, and SAO as a whole is as much a study of the human psyche as it is the story of a young man becoming an archetypal "hero." If Kirito found a way to let go of the anger in order to move on with his life, most psychotherapists would call that a healthy way of dealing with trauma. Taking it as such, the fact that Kirito was able to interact with Kayaba's copy without having some kind of breakdown or going into rage fit, doesn't mean that we as an audience have to ignore the fact that Kayaba knowingly toyed with the lives of thousands of people to satisfy his god complex. Just because not hating Kayaba makes it easier for Kirito to move on doesn't mean he's excused of all his wrongdoings. He did something horrible; we don't have to like him. But it'd be hard for anyone not to come off as more sympathetic when compared to Sugou the sicko, who was pretty much created to be universally hated.
All in all, calling Kirito "selfish" is... Well, it's not like Kirito saved the rest of the players by winning an almost-unwinnable fight, or that he executed Kayaba with his own hands, right? What else could he do to further punish Kayaba, throw a tantrum at him? Some people would, primarily to avoid being marked as non-empathic; but Kirito isn't concerned with popularity. The conversation between him and the ghost of his old enemy was actually quite natural.
Should also be noted that we don't know that Kirito exactly "forgave" Kayaba. Understands him, yes. Agrees with his general sentiment, yes. Can have a civil conversation with him, yes. Truly forgives Kayaba's actions? ...I won't claim it's impossible, but I don't think we really have any evidence to suggest he did.
Grimlock and Griselda
Ok so Grimlock secretly arranged to have Griselda murdered by Laughing Coffin because she was becoming more and more outspoken and developing a life outside the one he wanted.Reasonable as that is, according to Yoriko, when discussing what to do with the ring he suggested everyone do what Griselda said to do with it. If he was willing to resort to murder to curb Griselda's independence, then why was he encouraging other people to follow her?
Two possibilities: Either he wanted to throw suspicion off himself by agreeing with her (remember originally the only suspects were the ones who wanted to sell it, because they thought the murder was about the item), or he just genuinely agreed with her, and then used the opportunity presented by her going off on her own to arrange the murder.
But if he's such a Control Freak that her loosening up is grounds for murder, why let her take the lead at all?
He probably tried to take control at the guild's founding, but the other guild members refused to put up with having him in charge, and he stayed because Griselda stayed, lest he lose control over her, too.
The revival item from Nicholas the Renegade
Why did people believe that an in-game item could revive people in real life?
Because they were desperate, and had only second-hand evidence (from Kayaba) that anyone was dying at all. And hey, it can revive the dead. Just, you know, within a ten-second grace period.
I thought that maybe there's a ten second window between the time a character's HP hits zero and when the helmet zaps their brain, allowing someone to revive them in that time.
Yes, of course. But they weren't explicitly told that; Kayaba's speech at the beginning implied death was instantaneous. It wasn't until they found this item that they realized there was a grace period.