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    Fridge Horror about RL bodies 

  • 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 NerveGear 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.
    • Actually, IIRC, Kirito in particular went through two months of rehab... for two years of being in a coma. Ask someone who studies medicine— atrophy for two years requires years of rehab just to get back to par. At the absolute very least, it takes more than two months. But, this isn't so much a plot hole as it is a mistake.
    • Not really. Kirito is not nearly at 100% after two months. And in the LN it's explained they were using special gel beds with light electric currents running through them that slow down muscle atrophy of comatose victims. 2024 technology?
    • 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!
    • For inspection, all the GM would have to do is present VR helmets that don't have the "try to remove me and I'll fry your brain" feature to the inspectors, cons, displays, and what not, then once the product is green-lit, manufacture helmets en masse with the literal kill switch, and simply don't tell anybody... until it's too late for them to do anything without risking the very lives they wanted to save.
    • 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 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.
    • Example of how it can pass inspection can be found in cases like the VW emissions scandal

    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, 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.
    • Kirito was attacked first by a red player (whose cursor turned orange when he murdered another nearby player). He killed in self-defense. The system must've taken that into account.
    • That is correct: Kirito never attacked a Green Player. This is brought up in at least the Anime version, with Rosalia of Titan's Hand, where her mentions that she's a Green player, because she lures the victims to the rest of her guild, who then rob/assault/kill other players, and as means of instilling doubt into any who'd try bringing her to jail at risk of turning orange themselves. It's also mentioned the duel system is also abused to dodge being marked as an Outlaw, via Sleep PKs.

    Soy Sauce 

  • 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.
    • This point is heavily elaborated on in the "SAO Progressive" series of light novels, and in a way that I find is extremely typical of Reki Kawahara, with a subtle retcon.(The enormous amount of retcons are not necessarily apparent to anime viewers as that version already includes many of the retcons.) During SAOP fantastic real-life food is available to players who seek it out, even though it's "cooked" by NPCs. The twist is that the food is typically themed after the level it is on and is often non-Asian, or specifically European cuisine. For example, only Asuna can identify the food on 7th floor as Greek as she was born into a rich family and had traveled to Europe before, name-dropping several places. In fact, the series is so chockful of food porn it puts the main series to shame in comparison, probably as a way to bring the Aincrad experience to life. (Besides, it's a character trait of Kirito's to be permanently hungry.) It is also mentioned that while the food is actually really good, Kirito actually would gladly trade it for food that reminds him of fast food staples he considers comfort food, or for some traditionally prepared fish. Consider the level designers - why put something in that anyone could have just by logging out (and compare to their work) when they can both increase immersion and base their choices on something real so they don't have to start from scratch? IIRC, this contradicts Kawahara's earlier writings on the topic, something he unashamedly does and then pretends in future writings it has always been this way. (Like SAOP plot points have been incorporated into side stories and the mainline even though they contradict earlier mainline novels.)


  • 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 probably made sure the hospitals had the most reliable 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.
      • I'm one of these guys that keeps the internet connection running, we desperately try to keep those villages online. My point is, the connection does not work that way. 10.000 people should be enough to guarantee a 1000, at least, to experience loss of connection for more than the grace period. "Has really good wifi" can't be an excuse. Considering needed bandwith, I just hope people playing had 24h support for an FTTH, Fibre to the Home, Glass fibre cable into your appartment, connection. Else they are toast.
      • Seeing as everyone was moved to hospitals within the first couple of weeks, it's not unreasonable to assume that they did, in fact, have hardline connections to a business-class internet connection pretty soon.

    What about a power outage? 
  • Similar to the above entry, what if a player has good internet, but doesn't have a good power supply? Suppose there's a blackout, a circuit blows, or the power gets shut off for maintenance by the power company. What happens then? I could buy this not happening after the players were moved to hospitals (since hospitals have backup generators to deal with power outages), but I doubt that the players were moved there right away.
    • Now you probably know how a lot of people died in the first days.
      • Problem with that excuse is that they never showed anyone dying as a result of that - the only deaths they showed en masse were players committing suicide. It's established in story that once you die, you basically dissolve.
      • They don't show us much of the early days. In fact, (prior to progressive at least), the *only* thing shown during that time period would be the first day (with Klien) and the side story in v8 where a guy tries to MPK Kirito.
    • It was stated that during the first two weeks, the ten minute window for no power or connection was extended by Kayaba specifically for the purpose of getting all those trapped in SAO to hospitals.

    Gleam-Eyes Kirito 

  • 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.
    • It's also worth noting that the spell Kirito used just makes you look like a monster. The size of the monster you appear to be is based on your stats. Thus Kirito, with his crazy SAO stats, looks like a floor boss. The transformation doesn't give him any stats or abilities, it just makes him look scary. What he does in that form is not anything he hasn't already been doing, given that he's already shown he can easily one-shot the average ALO player. The only actual affect of his transformation is that it scares the shield-users into breaking their formation, thus opening them up to be killed.
    • I got the impression that it at least made him giant. If it was just an illusion, when it looked like he was picking up a player and eating him, what was he actually doing?
    • Performing an attack with his teeth that used the Unarmed skill (a skill that he had almost maxed).
    • He's just hitting people with his sword like he always does. Everything we see happen is part of the illusion spell and thus not real. That's what illusion means. He jokes later that he lost his sword and had to use his hands, but he's just teasing Leafa when he says that.

    Sugou's injuries 

  • Okay just how was Sugou able to get to the hospital before Kirito with his injuries? While the actual injuries didn't happen to his real body, wouldn't the sheer pain of it all have knocked him out or in need of heavy medication? This troper admits to neither being an expert in medicine, psychology, or whatever fields this falls into or having 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.
    • Remember also the Sugou was killed several minutes earlier. Kirito first logged out the other test subjects, logged out Asuna, then checked the Yui was okay before he logged out. That could easily have been a 10 minute gap, and then Kirito rode a bike to the hospital, while Sugou may have driven; even going at 15-20 mph due to his psychosomatic injuries, he would probably have made better time across an equal distance. And there's no reason to assume he wasn't closer to start with; Kirito's family seems to live in a suburban-ish area, while it'd be pretty reasonable for Sugou to live in a high dollar apartment closer to the center of town.

    Limb Loss 

  • 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.
    • When it comes to losing body parts in those games, exactly how/when you do it matters. Eugene was cut in half, right down the middle and through his neck/spine, which would certainly be deemed fatal even if his health hadn't been dropped by multiple attacks earlier. Sugou was cut in half at the waist, which, while certainly a devastating blow, wasn't necessarily 'immediate' fatal - plus, as we saw with Kirito losing his hand + only taking off a 20th of his health, that and having your cheek sliced still left Sugou plenty of health to stay alive even at lvl 1... for the moment anyway.

    Meeting other players IRL 

  • After the original SAO incident, how did Kirito manage to get in touch with other players like Agil and Klein 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 e-mail, 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.
    • It's explicitly stated and shown that all of the three hundred are indeed logged out and awoken.

    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.
    • There is some merit to the matter of efficiency: Sugou was running a clandestine operation with company resources. If he used a private server, someone might start asking questions about what that server is for, and just answering "research" is not going to satisfy Mr. Yuuki. On top of kidnapping and treason, Sugou was also embezzling company resources for this operation, so minimizing the paper trail is a priority, just in case someone at the company starts snooping around. He wanted to move up the wedding date for similar reasons: he can foresee two ways his plan could be thwarted- Mr. Yuuki changing his mind about allowing this arrangement to go through (possibly after being talked out of it by Kirito) or somebody at the company discovering a misappropriation of company funds and server capacity and Pulling the Thread.
    • Sugou said one Full Dive capable server cost X0 mil. Assuming in yen, with the same exchange rate and neglectable inflation by 2024, that's X00k USD. Note that this doesn't makes him any less stupid, since he's knowingly taking a huge risk. A public server can be breached in any different number of ways, while a private one can only from inside the company. And Sugou's head of RECTO Progress (Full Dive division of RECTO, both research and games) and trusted by Mr. Yuuki as his own son, and by all rights should have the money for it. While it is a lot of money, he basically decided that preventing his mind-control plans from being discovered is not worth the money.
    • My take was that ALO was basically just meant to be a cover story to explain why he has a VR-compatible server. He put just enough effort into the game to make it convincing. Aside from the quest to get infinite flight (which is Unwinabble By Design and doesn't exist past the first floor), the rest of the game appears to all be team PVP. That Asuna was in an area of the game people could even conceivably see instead of a side area you can only reach by teleporting was a mistake though.
      • Which Sugo rushed to fix once he found out players were trying Rule of Cool stunts, but it was too late.
    • As others pointed out, keeping them on the same server was necessary; ALO essentially existed to provide a cover story for the server Sugou was keeping the test subjects on. As to why it was even sorta accessible? Sugou has a tin god complex. It's actually somewhat interesting to look at, but pretty much all of Sugou's mistakes stem from that single flaw. His R Ping as Oberon shows it; he 'needs' to be a god-king on his throne above 'mere mortals' below. Yes, the purely logical solution would have had the test area completely unconnected from the game world, similar to the Library in Alicization, but Sugou was far from purely rational. Everything from the birdcage, hidden despite being perfectly viewable (until players bootstrapped their way up), to the door in the dome (meant to be an insurmountable challenge), to keeping the test subjects in an area that is (supposed to be) inaccessible to players, but that they desperately want to reach, and even outside the game, him taunting Kirito about his marriage to Asuna, is him lording his supposed superiority over others.

    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, signaled 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.
    • I actually don't think that kind of test is credible. It isn't too hard to assume very few people trapped inside know ASCII or Morse Code or other codes. Even if they did, they would need to convince a large fraction of thousands of strangers to try it. And then they'd have to try to make everyone be able to fall asleep at the exact same time (good luck, at least waking up is easy with the system alarm). Even if they could do that, there's nothing preventing government officers from just assuming it's players timing themselves to certain in-game events. And the same workers would need to recognize these codes. Even if the case workers do finally notice, there's no way to communicate back. NerveGear blocks out all outside influence. You being hungry, thirsty, or have to take a dump in real life have no influence on your in-game perception. It's not stated (in the Aincrad arcs anyway) that you could make a player fall asleep in game by drugging them, and there's no reason to assume you can. Even if you can, you'd a huge risk (oops the guy fell asleep in the middle of a boss fight and died/Kayaba kills him as a warning against outside interference), and therefore a large difficulty in convincing anyone to try it. While I wouldn't say it's impossible, I'd say it's incredibly unlikely.
    • On the contrary, this sort of method is precisely what is used in real life to circumvent security barriers. The archetypal example is a system that must support Top Secret users and merely Secret users at the same time. In principle, it must be totally impossible for a Top Secret user to communicate anything to even a Secret user, much less an unclassified user. But in practice, this is never achieved. Attacks have been known for over 40 years, such as: creating and deleting a file in a coded pattern, creating and deleting a process in a coded pattern, creating a process that briefly spikes system CPU utilization in a coded pattern, creating a process that depletes and releases system disk space in a coded pattern, and so on. The idea of using sleep/wake in a coded pattern is exactly in line with these well-established covert channels that classified-type operating systems have to deal with. Therefore, it only requires one person in SAO with a passing knowledge of these sorts of systems (and I got that just from an undergrad degree in CS), and you can bet that there are legions of experts on the outside with just this sort of background looking for these sorts of signals. Wouldn't you expect Nerve Gear early adopters to be unusually tech-savvy? Furthermore, the SOS signal is designed to be easily detectable in all sorts of media — beeps, smoke signals, flashes of light. Anyone SAO victim who's hooked up to an EEG would easily be able to send an SOS, at which point the method (sleep/wake) and code (Morse) would be established. The hard part is done.
    • Again, there's a lot of assumptions that would have to be made in order for this to work. Say there're people inside the game sending a message to the outside. And say these people, assuming that they do have some sort of knowledge of technology-which actually might not be as likely as you think. There's 10,000 people, and it seemed like a majority of those people were children and teenagers, with a handful of adults for every group of people under 20. But, assuming one person does know, let's say they do like you suggested, which is to try to activate different parts of the brain at different times. You still need to activate the exact same person's mind at literally the exact same time every single night in order to get the message to repeat, and you're working with humans here. One night they might sleep heavier than they did the night before, or sleep lighter than they will tomorrow, all of which can change their brain patterns. They might have a nightmare, or maybe they didn't take the right amount of the drug. Or, even if they did take the right amount of the drug, it affected them differently due to the change in diet or activity from day to day, which does happen with medication. You actually can't control the brain that easily, and if it can't be controlled, then it can't be used as a message sender. So, the chances of them being able to get a message out, due to that lack of control, is pretty much null.
      And from the outside looking in, that's also going to be impossible, because not every single player is always safe. Say you do find the handful of tech savvy characters who know the code. Like other people have pointed out, the outside world has no clue what's going on in game. So say the outside world injects a player with a drug. First, we have no clue if the drug is even going to work, since we don't know whether or not the machine is blocking the receptors between the body and brain. Second, like it's been pointed out before, what if the player is in the middle of a duel, or a boss fight, or just some random training. We saw that players train at random hours, so we could easily get all of those characters killed. Then what?
      While the idea of using brain waves is a pretty good one, it's also 100% impractical. You can't accurately control the brain waves in order to send a message, and trying to control them on the other side could easily get the people you're trying to communicate with killed. So there would be no way to communicate to the outside world, at least not without dozens of mistakes along the way that would make the message unreadable.
      • You forget one thing - are these players that time sleep even in the same hospital? Its nurses maybe recognizing sleep patterns, to coordinate them is impossible. SOS might be possible, but then it will tell the outside "we are in trouble", what they already know. To then time morse code to communicate would require a person to be used as a communication device - reminding me of hybrids in Battlestar Galactica. Not a nice way and nobody would think of it in-universe.
  • There will be information flowing through the ethernet cable connecting the NerveGear to the internet. Since there is a grace period for being disconnected from the internet, it would be quite possible to connect a computer between the NerveGear and the wall, and have it pass along the signal. Once you can tap into the signal, you can observe it or even change it. This opens up a line of communication. You can have an alert pop up in the player's inbox, and read what the player outputs. You could even create a new account and have a computer pretend to be a NerveGear, while really being driven by a regular game controller. That way, a person can play the game without the disadvantages of the NerveGear,(Leaving the computer logged in), and communicate with players.
    • You must think SAO's cybersecurity is a joke. First of all, unless the people working on that were a bunch of morons, the NerveGears and the game would most likely be using strong end-to-end encryption. This would make it very difficult to just send messages to the players' inboxes, or tamper in any other way with their connections. And who knows what would happen if people did attempt such tampering? With players' lives at risk, who would try it? As for creating new accounts, if anyone could do that, they could simply join the game as normal, perhaps using NerveGears altered to disable the brain frying capability (as long as any unused units were available, they could safely tamper with those), or Amuspheres once those came out. But Kayaba went to the trouble of keeping the existing players from logging out, so he would of course have disallowed new people logging in.

     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.
    • The novels specifically state that the SAO players are attached to gel beds that automatically take care of bodily functions, as well as use mild electrical currents to minimize muscular atrophy. It's an adaptation failure of the anime that it shows them laying on normal hospital beds.
    • OR it was just a pretty doggone good disguise as not to provoke too much headscratching like we do here. The bed was installed, but somewhat, somehow, well-concealed as ordinary bed.
    • (If it was stated in the novel, then why did Kawahara have to state it in a twitter post?)
    • Clarity, maybe? I don't know about the "electrical currents" part, but the gel beds are specifically mentioned in the epilogue of the first volume. It is not something he made up after the fact, if that's what you're suggesting.
    • The electrical currents bit is also mentioned in the epilogue of the first volume. As part of struggling out of bed, Kirito pulls several electrodes off his body and muses that they were probably meant to stave off atrophy.

     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 Kayaba's backers might have started asking questions.
    • Kayaba only needed to get ten thousand people interested. He got far more. If Kayaba'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.
      • You don't just test for game bugs, they had an AI to do so. You test if the connection is stable and if player input is translated correctly, with the least latency. That's tweaking you need beta testers for.
      • Just because the game doesn't have bugs, doesn't mean it's unbalanced or unwieldy. Would you play a game with an overly complex crafting system? Or if it had awful looking cosmetics? Or no plot? You use the beta testers as feedback for the look and feel of the game.

     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 Kayaba.
    • No one knew about the upload of Kayaba; 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 Kayaba get away with mass murder? Also, no matter how unlikely it is for Kayaba 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 Kayaba 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 Kayaba "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.
    • Just after standing up with his newfound GM powers, Kirito loudly brags about how, while in Sword Art Online, swords were heavier and they dealt more painful damages. Until Kirito's Heroic Second Wind Sugou was both trying to rape Asuna, both berating everything Kayaba (and, by extension, Kirito and every other hardcore MMORPG player) used to stand for: coldly, Kirito decides to show him how wrong it was... in the most painful, incapacitating, humiliating way. By giving him Excalibur, and then trashing him effortlessly and brutally, he destroyed his ego before ruining his body.

     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 Non Player Characters 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.
    • In reality it wouldn't get to this point, a packet sniffer on the hospital's routers would tell everyone exactly where Asuna and all the rest of the hostages are. Even if Sugou used a proxy server it's doubtful that the proxy server company will allow itself to be accessory to kidnapping and would give him up quickly. It's best to simply accept that the writers of Sword Art Online hasn't thought most of this stuff through.
    • The guys who would be looking into it were the same people trying to coordinate re-integrating 5,800 other people into society: the Ministry of Internal Affairs Virtual Division. Kikuoka admits that the Ministry dropped the ball with the forum post, and by the time they determined it was a lead worth following, Kirito had already rescued Asuna.

     No munchkinning 

  • 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.
    • As a practical matter, the primary healing (and escape) items are Crystals, and I'm pretty sure it's stated that the later boss fights take place in arenas where said Crystals can't be used. No point in entering a Marriage of Convenience to ensure a supply of magical healing items when you're going into an Anti-Magic field...
    • 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 G.I.F.T" 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.
    • It essentially boils down to if you trust the other person with your life. If an item you depend on is suddenly missing in a critical situation because somebody else used it, this might kill you. It is never mentioned that inventory updates are prevented in boss fights, so even in an anti-crystal-zone you should be able to benefit from potions from a shared inventory. Potions can be simply imbibed, crystals require chanting a word. (This is a plot point in the side story setting up the events of the movie "Ordinal Scale", "Hopeful Chant", which you can read online.) So silent zones also suppress crystal use, for example. So I deem it possible that two people could share a potion stash or backup weapons (stuff can break in game) in a common inventory, and benefit from that even in a boss fight. The main healing item in SAO is still the potion, one reason raid teams come in two ranks is the "potion rotation" where another rank of people takes over while the current rank "rotates out" and imbibes potion, waiting for them to replenish HP outside the boss' range. (Not something established in the first light novel, though, IIRC.) Crystals are immediate and rare and hence the most coveted items that can save a life in unexpected circumstances - this just isn't established in SAO light novel 1 because the story basically skips to level 74 immediately. Also, another plot point in SAOP is that people are rather secretive about their loot drops in general, and guilds have to enforce some discipline there so that people share them around. This is even a major plot point in SAOP 6.

     Hair Length 

  • How does the NerveGear 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 NerveGear 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.
    • This is actually explained twice. In the second light novel it's mentioned that that Asuna gave Lisbeth advice on hair style and color which were one of the few things that the people stuck in the game could still change. It was also mentioned in SAO progressive one, in the Aria of a Starless Night arc, it's mentioned that Diavel must have done a high level quest to get blue hair die since it wasn't sold on the first floor.


  • 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, Kayaba 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.
    • VRMMOs are still generally games. SAO is real. That was the point of it.
    • The word virtual reality by definition means it's not real but virtual. In SOA the avatars look like you, but aren't you. Kirigaya Kazuto played with an avatar called Kirito and this avatar got married. People marry in second life too and other players might react to the two married players as you would towards a wed couple, but they're not married in real life. Why isn't SOA a game though, because people die or don't play it for fun? I'd say it's still a game with deadly stakes, like the gladiatorial games where plenty of people died and had to "play" without their consent.
    • It's not meatspace, but it's still "real" for most purposes. For example, if someone stabs you, you die. Marriage is purely a social thing, so all that's required is that there's other people. The only reason that marriages in Second Life aren't real is that nobody bothers to take them seriously. SAO was designed so that you had to take it seriously. Admittedly, part of the purpose of marriage is about having children, which is not something that can be done easily in SAO. But Kirito and Asuna adopted a daughter, so even that part was real.
    • Marriages, in order for them to be legally binding, have to be recognized by the government. For example, gay marriage in many countries. It just became legal in all 50 states in America, but before then, states could pick and choose. You might have been be married in Massachusetts, but then Texas didn't have to recognize your marriage as legal, and you're thus considered not married in the state of Texas. It's the same exact concept. Kirito and Asuna got married in the game, yes, but if Japan refuses to recognize the marriage, since the two of them are both minors and Japanese citizens, then they're not married. It doesn't matter how the two of them feel about it, that's just the way it is. If they were both legal adults and Japan had recognized their marriage, then it would have been a completely different story, since Kirito and Asuna would have had to get a divorce/annulment for the Fairy Arc to happen. Finally, there's the matter of whether or not the marriage was actually consummated or not. The two of them do have sex in the light novel, but in the anime it's left very unclear. And not having consummated the marriage can be ground for easy annulment.
    • There's also the idea of consent that needs to be taken into account. Because here's the thing- we actually don't know if the people who came out of the game are the same people who went in over two years ago, and why they might be different now. Could the changes be because of their shared experiences within the game? Most likely. Could the changes also be because of minute brain damage that the helmets caused? That's also a possibility. Because even the slightest of brain damage can cause issues. Take getting drunk as an example. A drink or two is fine, you're still aware of your actions and can make good choices. But drinking until you're drunk actually causes brain damage, which is why there's a split between your sober personality and your drunk personality, and why sometimes, even if you wake up without a hangover, you can still have a headache. If someone is drunk, then their not held as accountable for their actions. If you peed in a corner while sober, people would get pissed (heh), but if you did that while drunk, people would be more understanding. But no matter what, a drunk person can't give consent to anything. Not to buying something, not to getting married, and especially not to having sex. Now, since Kirito himself, when talking about the special school he'll be going to, mentions that no one knows what the helmets did to their brains, which is why they can't go to a normal school, it makes sense that events that happened in the game are taken under suspect. Where these people really in full control of their ability to make reasonable decisions while they were under the helmet? Since they can't tell whether or not they were, it makes sense that they just make all of those decisions, like the marriage, null, and then see what happens. Because theoretically, Kirito and Asuna could have gotten married the day after she woke up, and then their marriage would have been just as legal as their marriage in the game was to the game. And that would be a choice everyone would know was consentual.

     Kirito's "cheating" 
  • 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.
    • But Kayaba wanted people to keep challenging the game. Suicides and people too scared to leave the Town of Beginnings don't further that end.
    • No, not really. As in, what he wanted was not for people to keep challenging the game. What he wanted was to create a world of fantasy that was as real as it could be. Him being the final boss was something between dying when his dream died (in a way), him atoning for what he did at least somewhat (with his death, assuming the players got out), and a way to give himself some sort of function in the game (it was his dream world, why just observe it when you can live in it?). That is why there are no appearing-from-nothing counselling AI that sought out those who need help, because it's supposed to be as close to being real as possible and there is nothing like that in the real world. And that is also why Kirito doesn't hate Kayaba, as despite his actions being bad there was no malice behind them, he was just someone who had a dream and tried to fulfil it.

     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.
    • It's possible that Kayaba didn't actually give him anything. Kirito used his old SAO account when playing Alfheim, and his stats and money were transferred over; Kayaba's appearance probably reminded him that Kayaba also had a player account of which Sugou was likely unaware and had its own GM priveleges, and that this might carry over into Alfheim. Of course, it's a bit of a long shot, and opens up the issue of multilogging, but it's a possibility.
    • 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.
    • I found someone quoting the light novel, apparently kirito said “System command. Supervisor Authority Change. ID «Oberon» to level 1.”. So you're right, his authority level got set to 1. However, the above poster might be referring to how real systems do things. The administrator account might usually be designated ID 1, being the first created.
    • 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.
    • If you could overhear Kirito saying the password, that would be a huge security hole. Presumably it either works by him imagining the password, or it makes it so his mouth doesn't move while he tries to say it.
    • Significant story events happen during timeskips of weeks or months...that they elided something that was going to be used a few minutes later is nothing, relatively. (Also, Unspoken Plan Guarantee and all that.)

     Asuna's brother? 
  • 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.

  • By the way, how does Asuna survive at the end? She was killed before Heathcliff turned off the "you die in the game you die IRL" switch. And, even if we had to agree that there is a ten seconds limit, didn't it was reached when Kirito beat Heathcliff? I mean, I never watched the anime or read the book, but it feels like the writer did this so we can have a happy ending.
    • In the light novel, Kabaya specifically mentions "bending the rules" so that Kirito and Asuna live. When Kirito asks about the other players who died, Kabaya points out that "death can't be reversed that easily."

     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 being Killed Off for Real was the closest he could come. A twisted idea, perhaps, but actually logical from a certain point of view.
    • You might confuse death with consequence, death being just one of a higher degree. It's conceivable that he could have levied torture or permanent disability against the players. It's also not clear that he valued realism as he idealized a fantastical castle.
    • The consequence must be fitting. If someone stabbing you meant that you died painfully and then woke up in the nearest cathedral with half your money missing, it would just feel arbitrary. If you get killed, you should die. This is something people understand on a basic level. The fantastic nature wasn't realistic in the sense of being like reality, but it was something people could understand. It felt more real than reality does. If you mess up in reality, you might not get a raise or lose your job, resulting in fewer beige pieces of paper or whatever color yen are, which you can trade for goods and services. The whole thing feels even more arbitrary than waking up in a cathedral with half your money missing.
    • In truth, the ambiguity itself is likely the message of the narrative, providing a transcendental viewpoint that subverts the compulsive need for influence embodied in the originally conferred premise of Kayaba.
    • Kayaba was a combination Mad Scientist Mad Artist. He created a beautiful world, but knew that people would only ever visit it, not live there (since they would take there nerve gear off after a few hours to go back to the real world. His crazy-person solution was to just not let people leave. And to make people value their lives there as much as they do in real life, he made it so dying there really killed you.

     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 wouldn't. 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.
    • Mr. Yuuki is a Horrible Judge of Character and thought Sugou was a better heir than his own son, as well as thinking that backing Kabaya was a good idea. Also, he took his wife's advice at face value when considering marriage partners for Asuna, without doing any investigative legwork of his own. Mrs. Yuuki is the one who chose Sugou to be Asuna's betrothed,and Asuna calls her out on it.

    Kayaba's characterization 
  • 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 monster territory. Given that, his characterization as some kind of Anti-Villain Mad 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 a Magnificent Bastard and 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.
    • Kayaba never explicitly asks Kirito for forgiveness, even when entrusts him with the World Seed: even then, he asks Kirito if he can spare Aincrad from his hathred, and, ultimately, Kirito relents. Kirito had came to hate Kayaba, because he killed thousands of players and put his and Asuna's life in peril just to realize his dream, but he still loved his creations (Aincrad, the World Seed, the Cardinal System) because they gave him an imaginary, fantastic world to retreat to when he was a lonely kid and then the love of his life, a true family and a way to reconnect with his feelings. On the other way, he hated Sugou, because he took away everything Aincrad had given him (Asuna, a digital world in which forge true relationships, his pride), and Kayaba returned to give him all of those things, with the added perk of enacting his vengeance on Sugou. As such Kirito doesn't need to forgive or absolve Kayaba (afterall, the loss of his physical body is enough of a punishment): he can still love and cherish the World Seed and everything it brought it. On the other hand, Sugou had never given him something to cherish and love, nor had a single streak of nobility in his actions. Thus, while Kirito left Kayaba's in civil terms, he still wanted to turn Sugou's life into a permanent Humiliation Conga.
    • From the former fridge logic page: It's also a case of Blue and Orange morality. Sugou was clearly evil and didn't didn't care about hurting people, or even loved this. Kirito becomes nicer to Kayaba after he tells him that SAO was his dream since he was a kid and he just wanted to see it in reality. Basically, we have a true evil against someone who certainly have a psychological problem and is stuck thinking like an 8 years old would think, but with an adult's intelligence to fulfill his wishes, never evil just in order to be evil but just living isolated in his own world. It is possible that Kayaba didn't even notice how horrible what he did was, because he certainly seems to have a certain detachment from the world and a lack of understanding of people. A theorical genius able to manage things logically, even an huge guild, but who doesn't understand how life with other human works (though he apparently understand the concept of evil when it comes to others, given Sugou, or, probably, became more "human" by observing with the serie's progression).
    • With all due respect, but that's kinda bull. The world blaming Kayaba is justified, since they only died because he trapped them in the game. He may not intended for it to turn out like it did, but he still responsible. And players killing other players? He's an accessory to those murderers too, since they happened because of his actions. All the suicides are on him, everything Laughing Coffin did is on him. He may no have intended it that way, but Kayaba still has blood in his hands. All because he a delusional fool.
    • He has blood on his hands for the players killed by monsters in the game and those who died when the outside world tried to remove the helmets, but the people who died because other players killed them? No, not at all. He TOLD everyone that if they died in the game, then they died in the real world. These people knew exactly what they were doing. It's kind of like if someone takes a group of friends to an amusement park, and tells them that they can't leave until the end of the day. If someone in that group them pulls out a knife and stabs someone else in the amusement park, and that person dies, it's not the fault of the person who took them to the park, it's the fault of the person with the knife. Even if the person who took the group to the park and refused to take them home until the end of the day gave every knives, he's still not responsible for the people then stabbing each other. So everyone who died because of normal gameplay and the monsters, yes. The ones who died because of themselves or other players? Nope, that's 100% on them.
    • He gave a bunch of people lethal weapons and stuck them in a situation where they're likely to use them. The murder rate in Japan is around 0.6 per hundred thousand per year, so we should expect around 0.12 murders. Anything beyond that is his fault. It's like if you took a bunch of people to an amusement park, gave them all knives, and locked them there for a month, and a few people ended up getting stabbed, you'd be convicted for Felony Murder.
    • Agreed. For example, compare it to something like Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc— the villain of that game outright told them that they would have to kill in order to get out of their situation, and they did; however, it was only because they had to, they had no other alternatives or methods of escape, and they were constantly pushed to kill with threats on themselves and their loved ones. So, like here, yes people did kill themselves or others by their own hands, but since the situation is somewhat controlled, it is under the head of the GM.
    • It's not a matter of being a delusional fool or not. The easiest way to look at it is to take Kayaba as a sociopath; a realistic one; not the Holywood/Sugou one. While there is no questioning that what he did was bad, people are not judged in the same way, even in OUR own legal system, depending of whether they are conscious of what they are doing or not. Kind of like you should not bash a depressed person if they think about suicide even if it hurts you, because they have a HEALTH PROBLEM. Again, there is a REALLY BIG difference between "understanding" and "forgiving" depending of the context. Kayaba was a manchild that never got any kind of therapy whatsoever - it doesn't make anything he did "okay". But since he wasn't as openly greedy or evil as Sugou, it's easy to understand why Kirito is on better terms with him. If anything, Kirito is showing that he is quite mature in this scene; it's easy to be angry because of what Kayaba did and everything he caused and to get emotional; it's a lot harder to understand WHY he is this way and to get that the guy may very well be a victim of a bad brain chemistry that no one tried to help before, and certainly no therapist or no competent one. As a whole Sugou looked way more "well-adjusted" and conscious of what he did, which is the problem. Kayaba had the innocence of a child; the kind of child that doesn't get that stomping on pets will hurt them, or rather that it's bad. While it doesn't change the FACTS and what he caused, compared to Sugou who is conscious of that and use it to please himself, he clearly isn't as malevolent. He did bad things, but because the concept of "good" and "bad" is completely alien to him and he was just playing like a kid would play in his toy box, "killing" his toys in his mind. Sugou was, ironically, a lot more down-to-earth, which makes him a lot more despicable since HE should have the ability to know better. Basically, Kayaba is a "real" sociopath, like one is BEFORE understanding how the world works, and Sugou perfectly knew how what he was doing affected others, and was DELIGHTED by that; see: humiliating Kirito and Asuna in front of each other without any gain for him except for sadistic kicks. The two are just as guilty for everything they did, but one of them did it knowingly, which is why Kirito still view Kayaba in a better light, since he at least followed his own rules and wasn't sadistic just for the heck of it. A bastard Kayaba was, but one biologically hard-wired so that he doesn't even notice it. If anything, seeing how even Kayaba himself was disgusted by Sugou shows that with a proper life, he could have turned at least a little better. Compared to Sugou, he was able to follow the rules, even if it means killing him; he just didn't get why the rules should be what "our society" want them to be (= not hurting others); since he wasn't able to see other people as "human" except maybe Kirito, since he was "the hero of his story", and therefore only followed his owns, without malice, just because of his twisted logic and social incompetence. People don't judge a 3 year old and an adult being cruel to pets in the same way.
  • Okay, no. The problem here is that Kayaba is an adult. The fact of the matter is that regardless of whether or not he believed it was wrong, he still trapped people in a situation in which it was incredibly likely that they would die. Sociopaths are held accountable for their crimes all the time. If they weren't then society would be overrun with people allowed to commit crimes just because they don't understand why they're wrong. And even if we're talking from a meta-textual standpoint, he's still unsympathetic because of how inhuman he is. On the subject of him not being accountable for the deaths in game, since they weren't directly his fault, I'd like to call bullcrap. He had to have known that families of the victims would try to forcibly remove the helmets, because that's just common sense. Within the game itself, he's still got blood on his hands. If you went to a circus and the ringmaster told you that you could only leave if you killed his lion with a knife, do you think the ringmaster would be arrested and tried for reckless endangerment regardless of whether or not you lived? Trick question, of course he would. Saying that he's not that bad compared to Sugou is a masterclass in moral relativism, and the fact that people are actually trying to justify what Kayaba did baffles me. As do the attempts to justify Kirito letting him off the hook. Even if Kirito did save everyone, the idea that he doesn't have anything more than utter contempt for Kayaba because he got his girlfriend in SAO is just an emotionally selfish thing. It is totally possible to appreciate good things that happen in light of tragedy, but that doesn't mean that tragedy is overlooked.
    • Stockholm Syndrome effect in action, plus a few few notes of sympathy from Kirito/Asuna. To everyone outside the game, oh yea, Kayaba was public enemy #1 and justifiably so. However, Asuna and Kirito got to know him (or at least, another side of him) in game. Compare and contrast, how the Player Killer players and guilds were treated compared to Kayaba by government officials. The worst of the worst, Laughing Coffin, got off basically scot-free, despite according to SAO survivors being responsible for hundreds of murders in-game (to the point that the clearers put a temporary pause on climbing Aincrad, to launch an assault against Laughing Coffin). Asuna knew Kayaba as the reasonable commander and hero of the Clearing players, Heathcliff, while Kirito knows him as a fellow gamer who much like Kirito before the SAO incident, preferred living in a virtual world rather than the real world, and sees him to a point as a horribly misguided visionary who wanted people to live in his world. Sure, Kayaba is a criminal bastard ultimately responsible for the deaths of SAO players, but from at least Kirito's point of view, Kayaba was a sympathetic villain and at least had faith in the players to beat his challenge. The other villains Kirito had to deal with have nothing in common with him, and all just wanted hurt others for their sick amusement.
      • It's certainly not framed as Stockholm Syndrome. And I would think that regardless of how well Kirito got to know him, he shouldn't just let Kayaba off the hook for effectively ruining/ending the lives of thousands of people. Even if Kayaba is more relatable to Kirito than Sugou, again, that's just moral relativism. Saying that someone isn't as bad as Hitler or Stalin doesn't excuse the bad shit they did. Laughing Coffin getting off the hook is a non-sequitur, because that's the government's fault more than anything else. And hell, even if Kirito and Asuna knew Kayaba well enough as Heathcliff, why should that respect carry over after he betrays them? Have you ever seen any other piece of media where someone was like, "Yeah that guy was a traitor and is totally responsible for the suffering of thousands, but when he was on our side, he was a pretty cool guy," without any acknowledgement of how much of a dick the traitor was beforehand? The moment Kirito and Asuna leave SAO, Kayaba loses any accountability for his actions in their eyes, and that makes no sense. And to top it all off, I think there is a strong argument that Kayaba was hurting others for his sick amusement at the very best. I mean, the guy forgot what he was doing the whole thing for anyway, so how am I supposed to sympathize with him?
    • There is the main problem. First, Kayaba isn't "an adult"; or rather, in this context, being "an adult" isn't something that can be decided with the person's age alone. If the person just cannot learn how "an adult" should be because of a variety of hard-wired reasons, then he will ultimately end up as an adult body with a child-like mind. Ultimately, his mind is still at the level of children okay with hurting pets (or more commonly, insects) just because they don't have empathy towards them yet and "it seems funny". Psychologically speaking, he's stuck at the level of a very young child at best. Which leads to what follows; it isn't "common sense" in any way if we aren't talking about "typical" people. Not to mention that morality is subjective to begin with; and with a real sociapath it's even worse, or rather, "more obvious". "Common sense" definitely doesn't apply, and "free will" is a thing that depends of everyone's own experience and, ultimately, of how someone is, down to his/her brain chemistry, so there's no easy way out of this one. It all depends of how willing you are to try to understand why things went as they went, and obviously trying to get Kayaba punished for his crime, seeking out a therapist or whatever is pointless, since he is, well, dead. So while being angry about it would be justified, it would also be useless, not to mention that at this PARTICULAR moment, Kirito certainly had other things on his mind than some philosophical nonsense about guilt and forgiveness. We are purely talking about an emotional problem, not one related to law in any way, since the culprit being dead makes the "anger" of him not being punished for his crimes moot to begin with. If Kayaba was still alive and kicking, Kirito's tune certainly would have been VERY different. Sociopaths are he accountable for their crimes, and they usually also go into SPECIAL STRUCTURES, because their needs and their histories are very different from a typical person's one. You're also missing the whole point about this, both from a meta-Po V and an inside-the-game Po V; as I said, understanding and forgiving are two very, very different things and one doesn't necessarily imply the other. Nothing indicates that Kirito is forgiving Kayaba in any way; he did the best he could from this whole mess, and tried to see the reason behind the whole deal, but there is a world between t his and forgiving. It's just a need to rationalize what happened. The only thing it means is that one was more UNDERSTANDABLE than the other, and therefore it is often easier to accept, especially when someone 1à times worse is trying to rape your girlfriend in front of you at the very same moment. Kirito makes the rational thing in this scene; being pragmatic. Not to mention that lashing out at Kayaba at this moment would be purely an emotional thing; the guy is dead, literally. There was nothing to gain in getting angry at him; only something to lose because without its help, Asuna isn't the only one who would be in danger in the end. And yes, "moral relativism" is the key here. Again, you don't judge as kid as you would judge an adult. And understanding isn't the same as forgiving, once again. People are trying to justify it because it's what makes him stand out compared to the usual "hollywood sociopath" and Sugou, and make him not feel like a simple repeat of it. And from a character's Po V, it's also understandable; the event is over, the culprit is dead. Understanding how and why it happened in order to deal with it is way more logical (even if, once again, it only really looks "detached" outlook-wise because of how much of an ass that doesn't even respect his own rules despite being functional Sugou is). If you don't care about it, it's your own problem, but a lot of people care about the reasoning behind actions just as much as the actions themselves; and in this case, there is a huge gap between "greed" and "ignorance/having a psychological problem to begin with". It just happens that one is a conscious choice while the other isn't.
    • Regardless of Kayaba's status as an adult, that still doesn't excuse his actions. Neither does the notion that morality is subjective, a notion that, even if it is true, is not useful in determining how to act. You don't need anything more than a pure, animalistic reflex to the notion that Kayaba is the worst cyber-criminal in history, responsible for over 3000 deaths, in order to hate him so long as your morality lines up with what is conventionally seen as functional. I don't think it's human for Kirito to want to understand someone so abhorrent, and even if he did, his reaction and description of him implies far more than mere understanding. And this may come as a shock to you, but between a guy raping one girl and a guy killing thousands of people, the latter is the worse person simply by a matter of scale. Yes, Sugou was also working on brainwashing tech, but Kirito didn't even know that. It doesn't matter how they carry themselves. Yes, lashing out at Kayaba would be an emotional thing to do, but it would be a reasonable emotional response to someone like him appearing. And reasoning? Kayaba literally said, the entire reason he started this thing. We know why he made SAO, but not the death game.

     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.
    • There's no such thing as instantaneous, and anyone with any knowledge of computers knows that. It takes time for any program to execute. The computer would have had to do Damage=Calculate Damage(); HP(Player ID(number))=HP(Player ID(number))-Damage; if(HP(Player ID(number)<0) HP(Player ID(number))=0; if (HP(Player ID(number))==0) kill(Player ID(number)); and then take the time to transmit this signal and actually kill the player. Writing in a final check line in the kill() program is a trivial task: if (HP(Player ID(number))!=0) break; would terminate the program before the final code is executed.
    • Actually it's explained in the LN that nearly no one believed that item could revive players, as if the person was alive it would mean Nerve Gear can't actually kill the players, which would mean they should've been forcefully disconnected from the game long ago. Most guilds are only after the large amount of drop that Nicholas was reported to have. Only desperate people like Kirito are after the revive item. They've all concluded it's either a joke, or simply an NPC line from the originally planned SAO that Kayaba/Argus forgot to change when turning it into a death game. Kirito's explanation, which he admits has a incredible slim likelihood of being true, is that there's a possibility the people who died were only sent to another place on standby to wait for the outcome of the game. In other words, Kirito's the only person that we know of who's so desperate to revive someone as to grasp at thin straws.

    Yui's admin access 
  • Couldn't Yui have forced everyone to log out when she was in the emergency terminal room with GM access?
    • There are different levels of GM access. There were limits to what the terminal could do; all we know for sure is that it could grant the sort of Gamebreaker powers that are basic for a GM (flight, invulnerability, and a stupidly powerful weapon) and save programs as items. In fact, knowing Kayaba's attention to detail, it's possible that even he couldn't log people out until the final boss was defeated (though he gave Kirito a slight loophole by agreeing to fight 25 floors early).
    • It may have been theoretically possible, but she was dealing with a major time constraint: The Cardinal System was programmed to delete anyone other than Kayaba who used the emergency terminal. Logging everyone out without killing them would have taken time she didn't have.

    Why did anyone still play the games? 
  • After the unqualified disaster that was SAO, why was there still such a huge following for VR games? SAO is the first of its kind; when the Trope Maker for Deep-Immersion Gaming goes so horribly awry, I would expect only a few die-hards to remain attached to it. The majority of people would be so terrified of a repeat of SAO that they wouldn't even go in a store selling NerveGear, and stores would stop stocking it because no one would be buying it. Kayaba's antics should have shut the genre down forever, yet in each successive season more and more people play VR games.
    • Nitpick: SAO wasn't the first VR game, it was just the first one that was any good. So it had already been proven that it was perfectly possible to play these games safely; SAO was the exception. Furthermore, the NerveGear was scrapped and replaced with the AmuSphere, a more advanced device with far more safety functions to prevent a repeat of the SAO incident (and apparently it worked, since it's noted that Sugou's mind control program would only work on the original NerveGear). Also remember that we only see the newer VRMMO's after they've been around for a while. Could be that at first it was just a dozen or hundred die-hards, and when they didn't fall into comas, people slowly realized it was safe and were willing to play them. Finally, virtual reality is cool. There are always plenty of people willing to do things that seem stupid, simply because it's too awesome not to.

    Who's paying for all the medical bills? 

  • For the record, today it costs a bare minimum of at least $2000 per day to keep someone on life support. By the end of SOA, only 6,147 players are left alive and the game was running for about 2 years. It costs $1.46 million just to keep one person alive on life support for 2 years. In total if you factor in just the 6147 surviving players, it costs +$9 billion on overall medical bills that that's not even factoring in inflation adjusted for 2024, Japan's higher cost of living, and the other remaining 4000 players.
    • The company would have been forced to pay, with the government picking up any of the slack. Leaving the players to die would have been complete and utter political suicide for anyone who suggested it.
    • This also brings up Wild Mass Guessing and Fridge Horror of what if the player trapped in SAO has no other living next of kin? Would the government and or health care provider simply pull the plug on them because:
    • 1. It would save them ton of money of not keeping them on life support and it is cheaper just cremate the said individual.
    • 2. Since they have no living next of kin, no one is really is going to miss them.
    • 3. They can simply cover it up and say that said individual died in-game and have a false autopsy report written up.
    • It is certainly possible that something like this happened, but I can't imagine the risks would be worth it. In order to achieve any appreciable result, the scale of such systematic consignment of human lives would need to leave a paper trail the size of the Amazon and the resulting cover-up would be tenuous at best. An individual might get away with doing it once, but to do it on any kind of grander scale would be silly.
    • Also keep in mind that majority if not all of the SAO players are from Japan and Japan's Health Care System is NOT the same the United State's. By law, everyone taking up residency in Japan is required to have some sort of health insurance either through Employees' Health Insurance or by the National Health Care Insurance. Kayaba Akihiko probably even made sure that prior to purchasing a Nerve Gear, the patron needed to have proof that they're insured. And thank God could this didn't take place in the United States where the government there has no problem letting 45,000 people die each year because they couldn't afford health insurance.
    • As mentioned above, the players were not on life support. They were fed intravenously or through feeding tubes, and they were kept on special beds to minimize the health effects of being bedridden long term. Otherwise, they were just washed and monitored as any other hospital patient would be. This whole process wasn't cheap, mind you, but it wasn't nearly as expensive as hooking them up to ventilators or otherwise using machines to replace vital organ function.
    • Don't forget turning the patients over and physical therapy done to avoid bed sores and as much muscular deterioration as possible. Much the same way real coma patients are treated.
    • Remember that Japan suffers from economic lethargy (primarily due to aging population) and the government fight desperately to increase government spending. It may be considered as a way to boost government spending (as Keynesian way to measure GDP) and to grow economy
    • I always assumed there would also be considerable donations outside of Japan. Ten thousand people being trapped in such a way would make international news, and lots of people and groups would be interested in helping out in any small way they could.

     The World Tree Quest makes no sense 
  • This is my main issue with the ALO arc, at least in the anime (only experience with the franchise). So Sugou's Evil Plan has him storing the minds of the 300 people he kidnapped from SAO (minus Asuna) in a secret facility at the top of the World Tree so he can experiment on them and perfect his brain-washing technique. Fair enough. So why does he then make getting to the top of the World Tree the entire point of the game? Even if the quest itself is impossible to complete (which eventually people would have noticed that no matter how large or well-prepared a group you take, the game will spawn an infinite amount of guardians that cannot be overcome) why would Sugou advertise the location of his hidden facility and literally encourage every player in the game to try and reach it? Would it not have made more sense for his virtual facility and holding cell for Asuna be kept in a separate server or instance or whatever from ALO that could only be accessed by Sugou and his cronies and have every other public server have an actually doable World Tree quest? If he'd done that, Kirito would never have gotten the tip-off about Asuna being in the game and Sugou would have pretty much gotten away with everything.
    • Remember that Sugou is 1: An idiot and 2: Basically Kayaba's evil fanboy. He needed to put in an ultimate quest because that's what Kayaba did. But he wasn't willing to actually lose (even non-lethally), so he made it unwinnable. As for why he put his evil lab at the top of the tree, part of it is answered in the "Further test subjects spoiler" folder, but when it comes right down to it, it's because he's an egotistical maniac. He made himself the faerie king, for crying out loud. He wouldn't want his lab to be some boring random house no one would ever find.
    • Let's not forget, that the World Tree Quests was kept incredibly vague about how it's handled, and in a game where players are separated via nine separate racial factions in game. So, you sprinkle a rumor around in game that only one faction can be upgraded to becoming an ALF with unlimited flight and no height restriction, so now, not only do you have to plan for a raid involving an endless horde of enemies, that seemingly scales to the number of players currently participating in the battle, but you also now have to face a world that favors PvP battles with the other factions trying to stop your own from "winning". And on top of all this, there is the political intrigue involved within your own faction. In short, Sugou/Oberron has created Game Of Thrones Online, but with Nordic Fairy lore!. All of this ties into Sugou's A God Am I persona, and taking sadistic pleasure in seeing others suffer.
    • Megalomania and egotism aside, the World Tree is perhaps the most secure place in ALO. It's equally far from all of the player spawn points, it was higher than a single fairy could reach before they opted to place an invisible wall outright, and through dividing the races with PvP, no one singular race could amass a powerful enough force to break through the guardians (and discover that the World Tree was inaccessable to players anyway, because Sugou is a troll). Even if they created a completely separate and secret location, there's no guarantee that the players wouldn't discover it and then spread rumors about it. And you can bet that players will then try their damnedest to get into that secret location, often for the lulz. Even bans are not absolutely effectual as deterrents.
    • The most secure place in a public server is still in a public server. Sticking it in the most impossible-to-reach place is still trying to keep people out using a physics engine. This is like trying to hide something by locking it in a safe you built in a public server in Minecraft. No matter how good you make the security, the entire concept is insane. To do security right, ideally you keep the information off the internet. If it's necessary to keep it online, you make sure all access is encrypted, and all keys are kept off of the internet. You then encrypt those keys with secure passwords that the people memorize. The only reason anyone ever saw Asuna was that Sugou programmed the system to show her to them under circumstances that he was pretty sure would never happen.
    • The reason why he might have put it on a public server is reasonably explained in the Further Test Subject's Folder. One, it reduces costs, as before Kayaba's "ghost" provided the world seed to Kirito, the Cardinal servers were ludicrously expensive to run (a major factor in SAO's developers going bankrupt). Two, it allows Sugou essentially use the game to camouflage the research from his employers (and essentially embezzle company funds to keep it running). Three, it reduces the paper trail. And four, it allows Sugou to operate as the game's GM And even if Sugou didn't qualify as an ego-maniacal idiot, there is the matter that even in his position in the company, his and his underlings might not have had the salaries required to fully cover the expenses of their research.
    • They could claim that the server is for private testing. And even if they have to use the same server, they could at least have a different program running on it and not trust their secret to a physics engine.
    • Where is the best place to hide a leaf? In a forest. That's the mindset for putting the secret, illegal lab at the top of the "World Tree" and the "quest" was just an excuse that gave an explanation of why that space existed in the first place.

    Sound of the Knife 

  • As Kirito deduced, the knife in Yoruko's back (read: armor) was there ahead of time, easily setting up her apparent death. However, if it was there the entire time... what exactly produced the 'struck' impact, and how?
    • An accomplice.
    • Not sure about the anime, but the novel has Kirito suggest that Yoruko herself made the sound, perhaps by kicking the wall.

    HUDs and peripheral vision don't mix. 
  • The anime has a tendency to show the HUDs of the games (e.g. your health bar) as a sort of "overlay" over what the player sees. If that's what it looks like in the actual games, being permanently embedded in your peripheral vision rather than a Diegetic Interface or something like the in-game menus, wouldn't that be rather stupid? Wouldn't it be hard to focus your gaze on it, tricky to make out any text in it, and generally a nuisance to deal with it in everyday "life" (especially if you can't stop seeing it for two whole years)? How come nobody ever complained about the darn thing, and why does it get favored over a Diegetic Interface in at least three games?
    • I suspect VR and Diegetic Interface don't mix well. When you're on the other side of a computer screen, you can always check the relevant part of the screen for status, be it an in-game ammo counter on your gun or whatever. In VR? Might not have the luxury to check the "logical in-game location" while you're, say, being manhandled and thus the range of motion for your head is somewhat restricted. It genuinely doesn't seem to be as intrusive as you suggest, either; recall that Asuna manages not to even notice Kirito's life bar on her HUD in Aria of the Starless Night until it was pointed out to her.
    • Isn't the system capable of telling when you're 'looking' at something? There was that point in ALO where a certain someone abused the fact that the system thought they were looking at a mirror instead of an object programmed to vanish whenever they looked at it. Since ALO and SAO ran on the same engine, maybe the HUD fades a little when you're not significantly focused on it.
    • There is also the fact that, after a while, they mat simply not notice it until they focused their attention on it. The data is always there, they can see it, but they naturally filtered it out as a part of the background over time because it's always there. It's any changes to it, whether it's the numbers on it changing, the health bar changing color, and other signs that they may want to pay attention to it, that draw their attention. The light novels and anime don't go over it, but I wouldn't be surprised that getting used to it being always there took a little bit of time. You see this in the real world all the time. Look around as you walk on a route you take every day and pay attention to everything you see and you would be shocked at how many details you miss simply because you're not normally focused on them.

     What are you so embarrassed about, Asuna? 
  • Wanting to stay with your fiance forever is perfectly normal, so why backtrack after saying so?
    • Without knowing which specific case you're asking (since I remember Asuna being pretty straight forward for an anime Japanese person) it's probably simply Japanese social conditioning. You are not supposed to make a fuss about anything. Good or bad.
    • It could be that, but there could be another reason for when she did so (in Episode 11 of the anime). She may have just married him in-game, but she is still a teenager, not to mention that their relationship was still growing. Therefore, even after a passionate night (at least implied to have been one), there are still moments were a teenage girl would freak if her partner heard something embarrassing that she meant for him not to hear.
    • I was talking about that scene on the park bench right before Kirito logs in to GGO.
    • Same logic still applies; she is a teenager with the same mindset. Even though it's true, saying such things out loud is considered embarrassing by all rights, even without Japanese social customs as mentioned above.

     Calm down, it's just a game 
  • All right, I get that Sinon has a good reason to take the game seriously, but Dyne doesn't have an excuse. So you've come up against a player with an unexpected powerful weapon, you don't have to start shaking in your boots and moaning and crying about it. This isn't Aincrad, you're not going to have your brain fried if you lose a match, you'll just take a hit to your K/D ratio.
    • You also have a chance to lose parts of your equipment if you die to a PK, which in Dyne's case includes a rare and valuable assault rifle. So while his reaction is pretty over the top it is not surprising he considers the situation to be rather serious, too.
    • Also remember that these are professionals. True, you won't die or even be injured by losing a fight, but when winning or losing is the difference between being able to pay your rent next month or not, it's a big deal.
    • And maybe he's also a "Stop Having Fun" Guy treating it as Serious Business? Not exactly uncommon in the real life gaming community.

     Kirito and Sinon 
  • Kirito was blatantly flirting with Sinon. What happened to his relationship with Asuna? They got married and adopted a little girl. Is he going to just ignore that?
    • You make it sound like it's a big deal. 1) Talking straight and playful is worlds apart from kissing and having an affair. 2) It's already established in Aincrad and Fairy Dance this is Kirito's way of interacting with the opposite sex on friendly terms, from Asuna to Lizbet to Silica to Leafa to Suguha (when he didn't know she's Leafa).
    • See his actions in S2 episode 11, where Sinon is sitting on his lap and he's petting her hair. That looks very flirty from an outside perspective (and probably Sinon's), but it's more similar to how he treats Yui than how he treats Asuna.
    • I don't want to presume that you don't have any, but if you have friends of the opposite gender with whom you are comfortable enough to do random stuff without it meaning anything as far as romantic relationships go, you do stuff like that on occasions because “flirting” is simply fun even if both sides know there is nothing to it. And Kazuto is the sort of person I can see doing that; heck, his verbal jabs at Rika could be considered “flirting” too and Asuna doesn't mind those when he does it with her nearby because it's obviously friendly “flirting” rather than romantic.

     Conflict setup for Phantom Bullet 
  • The plot kicks off with about two guys dying while playing Gun Gale Online of what seemed to be a heart attack. In the case of "Zexceed", the head of Japan's tech division says that the report noted that the place looked ransacked, and mentions that the person playing as Zexceed was in his thirties. They didn't run a full autopsy because they "didn't suspect foul play"... despite the fact that the place looked ransacked. Whether or not they saw any peculiarity in someone in their 30s having a heart attack, they still don't bother with the full autopsy when someone else in the same age group dies of the exact same thing in the exact same circumstances (playing GGO). For a country that went through TWO video-game related crises (one where 40% of the people trapped in a game DIED and one where 300 from the remaining population didn't wake up for at least two months while having their consciousness trapped in another), why doesn't the tech division head order a full autopsy after the second occurrence of a guy dying in GGO?
    • I think there was no full autopsy because, strictly speaking, a 20-30 something guy who lives alone and is a "professional" gamer dying while playing a MMO is nothing that special. Even today with "regular" MMO quite a few people have died due to MMO addiction (or killed their children due to neglect). Also I think it was mentioned that the place was extremely untidy, which is rather what you would expect from the appartment of somebody who spends every hour inside virtual reality and which would only serve to make "death to addiction" more plausible. I think it was mentioned in the novels that they did some basic checks to looks for NerveGear-like brain damage and other obvious causes of death, and when they found none they just filed it under "dead addict" and called it a day. Back when MMO were a fairly new genre we'd have an news article about such a death every few months in german media so personally I don't consider that behavior too strange, especially considering that VR would be even more likely to fatally distract you from your bodies condition then regular MMO (so such deaths might be more common). By the time the Death Gun urban legend became known enough to draw attention (and to connect the shooting incidents to the actual deaths) it was simply already too late to do something about those older cases.
    • Except that ANOTHER person died under the exact same circumstances, and they investigated nothing then. And there was no talk about the guys looking emaciated or critically malnourished.
    • The guy mentions that they can't get in contact with the company that published the game, Zaskar, because they're situated in America and have kept contact information confidential. In America. For a company that can shell out thousands of dollars at a time to several people just for playing a game, and in a world where TWO video game-related crisis happened, wouldn't the American government be the slightest bit suspicious about where they were getting their money from and why they don't have contact information?
    • Online gambling is an industry that is well-known for skirting the law. got their real money website blocked in the USA for illegal activities, though it's still active in most countries around the world because it's based out of the Isle of Man. As for why they didn't simply shut the server down, online gambling is also an industry that can afford to throw a bunch of money at their customers to buy public support for their operations. Suspicious activity like this is very much Truth in Television.
    • So, they need to get in contact with Zaskar to do anything regarding government investigation or temporarily shutting down servers, but they can't contact Zaskar because they don't share their contact information? So, why not go to the American government instead? When people are dying while playing a virtual reality MMO in an age where the virtual reality tech has proven itself on one occasion to be MASSIVELY FATAL, wouldn't this be an issue for the entire developed world and countries that have access to this tech, to the point that it'd be a matter of diplomacy?
    • Apparently Japan and America aren't on the best diplomatic terms anymore.
    • You'd think America would get over that in the wake of another video game related crisis that threatens to kill more people...
    • GGO has a pro scene. In fact it seems the pro-scene is more front-center than the casual scene. Both hardware and software company pay large sums for tournaments of e-sports IRL like SC2, League of Legends, CoD, so it's not at all weird. The International 2014 had a starting prize pool of 1.6m USD (the final ended up close to 11m USD). In fact 200k to 300k Yen a month, which is 2k to 3k USD, would be incredibly low for top gamers of popular games to be making IRL. SAO happened due to the vulnerability of NerveGear. ALO's incident caused no fatalities and importantly also only effected people using NerveGear. The situation given is that: a) Both dead players are Japanese. The jurisdiction would fall under the Japanese government. Meanwhile the gaming company is American. Without more concrete proof, the government is going to protect its citizens' privacy and protect the coperations (and individuals) from libel first, which leads to b) Amusphere is supposed to be 100% save. It doesn't have the power to damage the user's body. Both the Japanese government agent and Kirito admit the chance of it being an actual murder is 1% and are only looking into the case because of "a bad feeling". Saying the US government, or any government, would work on this case in its current form would make as much sense as saying they'd investigate a case of someone accusing you of blowing up a building in India with a hack (not a bomb or that you're part of an organization) but can not identify the program. Or taking to the police as evidence of kidnapping a blurry screenshot of someone that looks like a missing person in an MMORPG with customizable avatars, tens of thousands of players, and countless NPCs. It'd get laughed out.
    • We should also note that it's not stated that the US government isn't looking into it. But even if it is, without concrete evidence for a warrant it also could not demand Zaskar to turn over players' personal information. It'd have to hack Zaskar, and it only do these things without concrete evidence out of concern for national security. And like it or not no serial murder is a concern for national security. More likely Zaskar would have to detect a security breach and ask the authorities for help, and there's no evidence it did either. So combined together. The US government has no reason to be involved, and even if it did there wouldn't be any changes to the story as it wouldn't be doing anything worth mentioning.
    • A serial killer is not a threat to national security, but if a serial killer figured out how to kill somebody from inside a game, terrorists or a foreign government could pull it off on a much larger scale.
    • They don't have to persuade Zaskar to divulge personal information. At least, a temporary closure of the servers to do investigation on the company is necessary. Yeah, the Amusphere is 100% safe, but there was no mention of the dubiousness of the NerveGear and they thought that was 100% safe before it started trapping and killing people. And Kirito even quickly contemplates the idea that if people are indeed dying from some guy in the game, it's possible that they're manipulating the game's sensory feedback so that a "brown feedback" of sorts stops their heart. And if they're not saying that the U.S is looking into it, and there's no evidence of said efforts in the case that it's not stated, then they're not. This isn't a simple matter of "two people died playing video games". It's "two people died playing video games while using tech that already has shown its potential, both good and fatal." This isn't just serial murder— for all they could know, there's the possibility that someone's manipulating the engineering of the Amusphere as is to make it so that you can kill people in virtual reality connected to the network that is the Internet. Suddenly, the crime of murder gets elevated to a whole new plane with an entire genre of technology. That's a matter of national security... if not at least a matter of great concern.
    • Side note: the people heading those prize pots HAVE some form of contact. It's not just that they can amass a massive amount of money, but it's coupled with the fact that they don't provide any contact information that should have raised some flags for the American government concerning Zaskar. Even Sinon talks about how GGO is a legal grey area.
    • Eeer no. Whether or not you think the government should investigate or that the government want the investigation is beside the point. So is what anyone theorize about how the killings are made with Amusphere. Without anything more than internet rumor to go by, they can't get a warrant. Without a warrant, Zaskar doesn't have to do anything. Zaskar has the contact info, just like Ke SPA and MLG likely have for their participants, and they're just as (un)likely to give up that info without a warrant. It's certainly not a matter of national security (no foreign country or organization is trying to undermine the sitting government and/or distablize society, and the scale of death -2 people- is no where near such an impact level). And if it's not, no matter how great a concern it is, evidence obtained without a warrant is inadmissible in court. Remember the whole point of having Kirito go into GGO is to get evidence. He was even originally supposed to go in to get shot by Death Gun with a bunch of electrodes tied up to him while supervised by a nurse so they can figure out what's happening. The latter still applies too.
    • The contact info being referred to is that of Zaskar itself, not of the players— the contact info of the players would be all but useless in this sort of situation. Nobody needs a warrant to ask of a company's own contact info— a company shouldn't be anywhere but in the utmost scrutiny of the American government (if not just plain non-extant) for not having any contact info of its own when it shells $2-3k to people just for playing a game. The basic purpose of that is to intercept fraud. Also, the threat to national security (really, this affects anybody with access to this tech, beyond America) comes from the possibility (again, as far as they know) that someone might be manipulating the programming for the Amusphere's machinery to kill people in a way that the Amusphere can.
    • There's nothing to suggest the US Government doesn't have Zaskar's contact info, since by law that's required. Zaskar decided to keep that info private, not the government. Possibility without evidence is not enough to get you a warrant. If it was Google would be treated as the same threat level as Al-Qaeda and the government would be actively monitoring every single internal and external email of Google Inc. This whole thing is set up to prevent government from forming a police state, so like it or not this is how the law works.
    • All they say about Zaskar in line of being able to contact them was that their information was confidential. They didn't even try to contact America to get that info, whether or not they had a chance in hell of getting it (assuming that you needed a warrant for that; there's no's viable point of a company keeping its basic contact info under wraps unless it has something to hide). Also, the government is kind of already monitoring the country's network communications.
    • That's for the company to decide. The US government is monitoring lots of meta-data through (very unpopular) laws yes. But it's not wiretapping or hacking emails without warrants for non-national security stuff (or at least we don't know they are). The government give a lot of corporations incentives for co-operation in turning over meta-data, but it's not required. Personal data and communication however is a whole different story. They certainly aren't tracking Google Inc's internal email (or at least they aren't letting us know that they are). And if it was deemed Zaskar was a possible national security (for 2 deaths is a huge stretch), they'd be sending undercover agents into the game (like Kirito), into Zaskar company, while trying to hack GGO sever. Nothing we'll hear. It's only after they get evidence through these actions that they can demand Zaskar to do anything. So they're unlikely to be motivated to do anything (by an internet rumor?). If they were, they would be very tied legally. If they go the semi-legal route, we won't hear anything. So the central conflict of GGO makes perfect sense.
    • We'd kind of have to see something happen if the semi-legal approach was being taken, especially since the narrative isn't strictly tied to one person's perspective but instead a impersonal omniscient third person. Given that, if it's not shown it didn't happen, especially since we have a government figure acting as a character. As for national security, America's since passed a Patriot Act that's part of the reason that the whole NSA controversy existed— with somewhat slight hyperbole, walking while Pakistani (and while having a giant unkempt beard) on a street in New York is enough for secret agents to nab you off that street and put you on a boat to Guantanamo Bay for an indeterminate amount of time with no one knowing. A VRMMOFPS with realistic gun models hosted by a company with no disclosed private info (private or otherwise) that can shell millions of dollars to people that play their game suddenly has people die while playing the game. Post-9/11 America has proven that it'll suspect almost anybody and anything and go to even the legal and moral black-grey for the sake of national security (and this would concern them because there has to be people playing this game in the states for the servers to even be located in the country), and they wouldn't be suspicious enough of this given the aforementioned to even consider it?
    • I'm not even sure what you're arguing anymore. No secret agents are not allowed to grab you off the streets of New York just because you're a Pakistani (though not saying they won't do it illegal or not). Both deaths are Japanese, not American, so the responsibility is on the Japanese government. The US government has never reacted solely on an internet rumor, except to post somewhere saying the rumor is not true. SAO 2025 US government would have to be between PRC and North Korea level of paranoia to be doing what you're suggesting. Are you saying that a head gear able to intercept and block all neural transmission to your body is believable, but that the US didn't become a police state isn't? Also the novel's perspective is limited third person, and there's nothing in the anime to show that it changed from limited to omniscient. Though you can be excused into thinking it's omniscient just because the novel changes perspective often, and so does the anime.
    • You mean you never heard about the Patriot Act that's existed since 2001 that allows the American government to target and kidnap you on the mere suspicion of being a terrorist? Military style? And the deaths might have been Japanese, but the servers that allow them to play that game were located in America— it's their business if someone died in the game and there's a theoretical possibility that it was because of something in the game itself. Also, I'm not seeing the link between "virtual reality tech" and "becoming a police state"— one's a technological change, and one's governmental.
    • 1) Did you even read the Patriot Act? If there's no evidence of a crime or a plot (in this case hacking) the government can't and won't do anything. 2) 2 Japanese people of no political and social importance died of seemingly unrelated reason with no established time of death to coincide with their game disconnect beside the date, with the entire thing being treated as such an urban legend that players publicly dare Death Gun to shoot them, and a bureaucrat and a 17 year old privately theorizing how it could be down without knowledge of Amusphere's hardware limitation or any test carried out by hardware engineers is supposed to make the US government hack a private company? Please. Even if the US did turn into a police state, they'd be unlikely to look into this until the body count gets much higher. 3) Is this a headscratcher about why Kirito has to enter GGO as an undercover agent or is it a rant that the step-up of a sci-fi/fantasy adventure story breaks your personal suspension of disbelief? Btw the Zexceed's apartment is reported as NOT ransacked. "His room was messy but hadn't been ransacked."
    • 1) America can pretty much declare anybody an enemy combatant without going through the actual legal procedure. Also, the wording of the stipulations that define domestic terrorism are vague enough that people have been making a hullabaloo about it for years. Politicians have been making a hullabaloo for years now about how America seems to be constricting civil liberties more and more, possibly on the way to becoming a police state. But let's say that's inflated; did Death Gun threaten a population of civilians with death in game? Yes, and only a year since the end of the SAO/ALO incidents. Death Gun cannot be immediately held accountable because he can't immediately be tracked. However, Zaskar can immediately be held accountable because Death Gun was in this game that they were hosting, and this incident happened in proximity to the SAO and ALO incidents. You don't threaten a terrorist attack of any sort even five years after a major one happened— the government WILL take you seriously. This answers point 2 as well; those servers are in their territory, and as far as they know, someone possibly found a new way to kill people with virtual reality. And it's almost certain that American players would be playing GGO since the servers are based in the U.S, so that's more of a problem. 3) It's neither; it's a headscratcher about foundational aspects in the conflict of a story. P.S: From what I remember, they said that Zexceed's place looked like it was ransacked, but they didn't see any evidence of a burglary. Possibly, it could have been simile.
    • If every gamer who ever made a death threat was immediately investigated for terrorism, there'd be a lot of gamers having their doors knocked down. In this particular case, Kikuoka et al are apparently the only people who even really noticed it in the first place; the novels make specific note that Death Gun is very annoyed that no one paid much attention to him.
    • It's not just making the threat; it's the fact that the threat was made, said target actually died, another person died under the same circumstances, and this is all happening a year after the SAO/ALO incidents.
    • And almost no one actually noticed the connection. Hardly anybody was actually paying attention to Death Gun when he did it. Moreover, as is also specifically noted, even the freaking experts can't think of any possible way for Amu Sphere -or VR in general- to cause a heart attack. It was written off as a coincidence by almost everyone, including Kirito and Kikuoka -who are basically the experts on the subject- and for good reason. There was zero evidence that the game could actually have had anything to do with it, and in fact from a technical standpoint it didn't.
    • Yeah, and nobody said anything about the NerveGear being potentially unsafe what with its super microwave oven-level microwaves until it started trapping people and frying their brains.
    • And when it was suggested that NerveGear could kill, the exact mechanism was quickly determined without even a physical examination of the device. The AmuSphere presumably was given a careful examination by Kikuoka's people once the deaths occurred, and found nothing. Unsurprisingly. NerveGear directly interacted with the organ it destroyed; AmuSphere has no connection whatsoever to the human heart.
    • Exactly what Kirito hypothesized, though, was that the Amusphere was somehow capable of creating a sort of sensory feedback that could stop the heart.
    • A hypothesis which was almost instantly debunked in that very conversation, and as Kirito notes Kikuoka's team would certainly have already thought of and dismissed the idea even before Kirito was contacted. The conversation goes into great detail in determining that there is no logical way that AmuSphere could kill. They come to the logical, and in the end entirely correct, conclusion that the game has no causal relationship to the deaths.
    • Adding to that, Kikuoka even stated the Amusphere hardware makers were adamant such a thing could not be done. And I quoted the Crunchyroll (aka official) subtitles. The Japanese used in both anime and LN is 部屋は散らかっていたが荒らされた様子はなく which means exactly what those subtitle said (what you were too lazy to go check?). Death Gun didn't even threaten to kill anyway in game. He just said a bunch of cryptic stuff about "real power" and "judgement" then shoot a virtual bar screen in once case and a player avatar in another. He won't even qualify as a psycho killer at the point in the case, let alone a terrorist. The only thing linking the deaths to GGO and Zaskar is that the players dced from game on the day they probably died of a heart attack. This when one was such a hardcore gamer he full dived for two whole days straight (read no food no sleep) before his death. The government has more important stuff to do, like tackling cyber fraud or real life retaliation due to in game things (in the LN). Seriously man.
    • Death Gun literally calls himself Death Gun, and shoots a television with Zexceed on it right before Zexceed's face contorts grotesquely and he D/Cs. Death Gun shot another person in virtual person saying the same thing. Not only that, but his name is Death Gun— of course, that wouldn't mean anything by itself. Also, I rewatched episode 1— what they conclude is that the Amusphere doesn't have the brain-frying capablities that the NerveGear had. That's what's debunked. Kirito makes the hypothesis to Kikuoka about the brown sensory feedback before immediately questioning why Kikuoka is asking for HIS help. At best, Kikuoka simply says that the deaths weren't caused by gunshots within the game... of course, that's because both victims died of an acute heart attack. And Kikuoka couldn't have said that to debunk the idea of the Amusphere being able to create that brown sensory feedback because they didn't do a full autopsy to find that these guys were poisoned— they only did an autopsy to see if there was anything wrong with their brains.
    • Thing is, Death Gun never shot Zexceed. Death Gun just shot a TV while Zexceed was on it. By all logic, Zexceed should not have been injured by Death Gun shooting a TV, and so any Brown Note or other effects Death Gun may have been exploiting within the system should not have had anything to do with Zexceed's death.
    • You're relying on the anime, I see. Well, the LN does go into clear detail about it, and the Brown Note hypothesis is discussed in detail, and emphatically debunked. Among other things, the AmuSphere does, in fact, have specific safeguards to prevent exactly that, because there was a brief rash of crimes that involved low-level versions of that (also, Kikuoka makes a thinly-veiled reference to the infamous Porygon Episode, which would seem to suggest that that was one danger VR developers did think of in advance). To make a long story short, the anime may cut the full explanation, but canonically the Brown Note theory was indeed properly debunked.
    • Unless I missed something, they didn't mention any action taken after the ALO incident, where Sugou revealed a pain limiter that can deal intense feedback (and in Sugou's case, when used against him, leaves him blind or nearly blind in one eye and has him rasping to Kirito when he gets to the hospital), presumably even with Amuspheres. At the very least it severely but temporarily impaired him. This is something that isn't even talked about in even the light novel version of the discussion, if I recall correctly.
    • Not considering flash-induced epilepsy would constitute gross negligence on the part of the developer considering that epilepsy warnings have been on video games since the late 90's.
    • It's already established that AM Usphere does not have the means to kill. Or heck cause bodily harm. Why do you insist that any government should investigate the death of two foreigners of no political and social standings who died in their own country just because of an internet rumor that someone saw someone with the cliched ign of "Death Gun" shoot their in-game avatars on the day they probably died in a game where the servers are located on home soil, when it's not only the responsibility of said foreign country, but that the victims are the extreme type of hardcore gamers who go 5 days straight without food or sleep which obviously took a toll on their health? Also note that succinylcholine is an incredibly effective murder weapon that is lethal, act fast, and extremely difficult to detect. Succinylcholine cases were solved with other witness evidence, because it is so hard to detect and what's detected is often circumstantial. Even if the police did conduct an autopsy it would have made no difference.
    • I just said that Sugou had a pain delimiter programmed in ALO that, when used against him, ended up severely (if only temporarily) affecting one of his eyes. The Amusphere definitely has the ability, if not just the potential, to severely affect the nervous system, and it was proven in Fairy Dance's climax. Both the victims died of what they figured out to be _acute_ heart failure, but malnourishment doesn't cause acute heart failure. And again, they wouldn't be investigating some serial murder in another country; they'd be investigating the possibility of (as someone mentioned retroactively in this just prior to now) someone finding a new way to kill through the Amusphere (that, and the base servers are in America, so it's partly their business).
    • "Chronic stable heart failure may easily decompensate. This most commonly results from an intercurrent illness (such as pneumonia), myocardial infarction (a heart attack), arrhythmias, uncontrolled hypertension, or a patient's failure to maintain a fluid restriction, ''diet'', or medication." "Smoking appears to be the cause of about 36% and obesity the cause of 20% of coronary artery disease. ''Lack of exercise has been linked to 7-12% of cases''. Job stress appears to play a minor role, accounting for about 3% of cases. ''Chronic high stress levels may cause some cases''. He wasn't sleeping properly, wasn't eating, and wasn't exercising. Which means malnutrition, high physical stress, low physical energy. The fact that he was able to be conduct an interview like a fully functional human being instead of a babbling idiot after five straight days of full dive is more incredible than if he were to actually die of natural heart failure because of it. Kikuoka already went to the AM Usphere engineers who were adamant foul play couldn't be done with the hardware and in this case they were right. Surely that qualifies as an investigation. With no sign of foul play, no full autopsy which would have made no difference anyway, and so no search warrant, and the Japanese authorities writing the thing off as natural and the entire thing with Death Gun an internet rumor or coincidence (which is procedurally sound, even if incorrect), exactly what should the American government use to demand Zaskar shut down its servers? For all we know, the American government looked at the available evidence, may or may not have talked to AM Usphere engineers and/or Zaskar spokespeople, and concluded the entire thing is only an internet rumor just like the Japanese authorities did. You'd think the American government would have shut down things like NASCAR racing, MMA/Boxing, sky diving, hand-gliding, mountain climbing, etc with the way you think they should be acting. And what difference would what the American government do make on whether or not Kirito has to go into GGO as an undercover agent looking for evidence (the conflict of Phantom Bullet)?
    • Except that they died of acute heart failure— and I stress acute—, which is the heart failing all at once. Malnutrition can't cause that. Overworking doesn't cause that. Some bell should have went off when they died of acute heart failure and the only commonality was that they were possibly overgaming and there's no trace of poison in their systems, because acute heart failure isn't natural. It's dubious, and along with the fact that a pain delimiter enables the Amusphere to cause actual severe pain as seen in the climax of Fairy Dance (then again, Kirito doesn't seem to have shared that piece of important information) ultimately gives birth to the theory that someone found a round-about way to use the Amusphere to kill again. Again, this isn't an issue of two people dying— this is an issue of someone POSSIBLY, as far as they know, having found a way to kill people again, that can be exploited on a larger scale. Then again, they can't really reach that conclusion since Kirito never discussed the pain delimiter. And since there's no mention or allusion of action being taken by America, said possible talks didn't happen.
    • Lack of salt can cause acute heart failure, and that can be related to malnutrition.
    • You do know the two links I gave you are for Heart Attacks (a major contribution to acute heart failures) and yes Acute Heart Failures right? I even quoted you from the causes for acute heart failures. Both sleep deprivation and malnutrition can cause heart disease, heart attacks, and heart failures minor or acute. All Acute Heart Failure means is that the heart stopped suddenly, instead of gradually. A weakened heart from a stressed body could most definitely stop suddenly. Plenty of real life succinylcholine cases are initially mistaken for heart attack. And since whether or not anyone but Kirito knows about the pain absorber, or whether or not the Japanese authorities went to the American government, or if or what what the American did about this case have absolutely no impact on Kirito's need to go into GGO to gather evidence, it would not be shown. Especially not in a Third-Person Limited alternating-by-scene POV.
    • The claim was retracted on the basis that there was duplicate data that couldn't be verified.
    • Acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF) is a worsening of the symptoms, typically shortness of breath (dyspnea), edema and fatigue, in a patient with existing heart disease. That is to say, ADHF isn't exactly acute heart failure in the sense that you need to have a heart disease to begin with before someone can say that ADHF happened. And there was no mention of any pre-existing heart condition with these individuals that would contribute to their acute heart failure, so all they have to go on— and all that they reported— is that they died of acute heart failure. WHY they died, and thus, how the acute heart failure happened, is assumed to be because of overgaming, but they don't report the conditions of their hearts at the time. Including whether or not they died of heart attacks— which they would classify their deaths under instead of just "acute heart failure". Additionally, none of that is conservation of detail (and the first chapter takes place with Kirito's POV, so there's no excuse for his omission of the pain delimiter when they have an entire conversation ruling out possible causes of these suspicious deaths). The fact that Kikuoka is a government official and even mentions the difficulty in contacting Zaskar means that he could have also mentioned diplomatic efforts, but didn't because it wasn't written, even though neither that nor what America did about it would be detail burdening if he did because he already mentioned trying to contact the company.
    • It's medically classified as acute heart failure and is potentially immediately fatal, so how you personally want to classify it is irrelevant. Not to mention you know, the possibility of heart attack. Kirito and the audience doesn't need to know what their heart conditions were in at the time. All they need to know are 1) there is no sign of foul play, 2) all authorities assume natural cause of death, and 3) Zaskar won't officially look into this or divulge any information. Even heart failure itself is unimportant except that it foreshadows succinylcholine poisoning. As long as those three are given, then Kikuoka has a reason to ask Kirito to enter GGO to either confirm the deaths are coincidence or to figure out how it works. Kirito already assumes the death is caused by health deterioration from overgaming, and Kikuoka basically confirms that's what's widely (and officially) accepted. Stating XeXeed's exact health would only be extra words saying ''how'' the conclusion of natural death was reached (besides lacking evidence of unnatural death), not change that the conclusion ''was'' reached. What XeXeed's heart condition in the months before death (assuming there are medical records) is therefore just as irrelevant as whether or not the Japanese government contacted the US government (without reason if I might add, since the death is assumed natural) or whether or not the US government investigated, and if it did what conclusion it reached. Kirito's knowledge of pain absorber is even more irrelevant, since Kikuoka already went to the AMUsphere engineers. Whether or not Kirito shares or already shared that knowledge or that Kikuoka and/or the AMUsphere engineers already know (and they should since it would need to be a hardware capability) does not change the fact that the deaths are assumed natural and Kirito needs to go into GGO to confirm that. It's good you brought up the novel's Po V. It's first person. We only know what Kirito says, thinks, hears, and sees. Kikuoka has no reason to tell Kirito, a high school student, what a special task force of the Japanese bureaucracy is doing, or use any fancy medical jargon that Kirito the high school student or most and the audience wouldn't understand. In short, all of your complaints and assumed scenarios are not only unlikely, they are irreverent as Kirito would need to go into GGO anyway. They are as irrelevant as what Unobtanium does in Avatar. You would have a point if Kikuoka had said "Officially, it's natural heart failure because there are no signs of foul play. But he had been perfectly healthy before then, so we [the government] don't actually think so. I smell something fishy so I want to dig deeper. But Zaskar doesn't answer me, so I need you to go into GGO." But Kikuoka doesn't give even that much weight to death gun in the actual work. He says basically "Xe Xeed's been living an incredibly crappy lifestyle and everyone and even me believe that in all likelihood the cause of death is natural and Death Gun is a coincidence. I just need you to go confirm that before other people use this case against VR." I am also unsure why you keep bringing up Show, Don't Tell. Show, Don't Tell is a technique of mood/emotion/description to use the reader's imagination with descriptions instead of establishing mood/emotion/description with blunt adjective statements. If your complaint was that Reki wrote "Death Gun looks like a scary badass" instead of describing Death Gun's scary and badass appearance and how people around him reacted on seeing him, then it would be Show, Don't Tell. Not only did Reki not do this (Show Donttell even says the rule should be broken when needed, and Reki's a bit on the Purple Prose side), but Show Donttell has nothing to do with how Exposition is handled, which is what this headscratcher is about.
    • This headscratcher was answered as soon as it's demonstrated the OP misremembered Kikuoka's dialogue. The room wasn't rummaged through. There's no sign of foul play. Cause of death is stated by all evidence, including expert opinions of AM Usphere engineers, seemingly natural. Therefore there's no criminal investigation. There's therefore no reason or grounds to go to a foreign government for this issue. Death Gun is agreed by all parties to be in all likelihood an internet rumor, and Kirito is sent into GGO to confirm that, not to conduct a criminal investigation.
    • That's not how it's actually done. If they die of a heart attack, they classify it as a heart attack. Saying that someone's heart failed, and whether or not it was acute or chronic is too broad, because several things can cause the heart to stop, either over time or acutely. They figured that it was acute heart failure, but they didn't talk about what exactly caused it, when what caused it was important, especially since a sudden stop of heart in a 30-ish year old person is, in most regards, suspicious since acute heart failure normally doesn't happen that early in life (and as discussed, AHF itself can't even be caused by malnutrition, and ADHF diagnosis requires that they have a pre-existing heart condition). It's less about the audience needing to know (because in that sense, the essence is that they died, because that's the main point)— it's about demonstrating that these government officials went through all the avenues that they could, and exhausted every point that they could (in that case, the audience does kind of need to know this, and Kirito does kind of need to know this for the sake of the conversation that they're having; so, yeah, I'm using Show, Don't Tell incorrectly— I actually do mean to discuss a lack of exhaustive showing of vigorous efforts befitting government operations). Kirito's knowledge about the delimiter is unequivocally important, because if Kikuoka went to the engineers of the Amusphere and they said that it has no potential to even severely negatively effect people, the climax for Fairy Dance throws a wrench in that statement if they never mentioned that, because if they knew, the efforts would go to further fine-tuning the Amusphere AND a bunch more software regulations. And since a chunk of the chapter is spent coming up with different ideas about how the Amusphere could have possibly caused or assisted in their deaths, even if they're mostly sure, they still have their doubts— and enough to have a nigh-exhaustive conversation about it. Otherwise, they wouldn't waste time on it to talk about past events that urged fine-tuning of the Amusphere. If it wasn't even mentioned when he got there (and his words and lack of mention about it at all during the conversation confirms it), that means that they overlooked that. It means they didn't know. (Now, if that was discussed, that would mean that this was more airtight; it would mean that my misremembering the scene [or rather, not being aware that there was a difference between the anime scene and the LN scene] would be the sole source of this headscratcher. And truly, that IS the initial source of it, but there's details that are found in the source material itself— or rather, one crucial detail— that complicates matters.) But Kirito doesn't even mention it himself— even though the first chapter takes place in his perspective, and even though he experienced this first hand and saw the effects of it on Sugou. Furthermore, Kikuoka already uses the term "acute heart failure", which is pretty jargony as is, and even more so than "heart attack". He didn't say that their hearts stopped, or that they simply died— he gave an actual medical term that actually meant something specific, even as broad as it may be upon scrutiny. On top of that, Kikuoka is already telling this person about what exactly is happening, what happened to two guys, his inability to adequately contact Zaskar, and is effectively telling him to potentially put his life at risk in the face of a threat with a cause that they know nothing about. He's already bearing all, and shows little to no sense of restraint in divulging any sort of information to Kirito that he may have wanted to ask— at no point does he say "I am absolutely not allowed to tell you that because it's confidential."
    • And on a side note, how is it that Japanese players can easily play a game that depends on little to no latency for optimal (or even passable) playing when the servers are situated on what seems to be the east coast of America (not that being on the west coast of America would completely eliminate the issue of significant latency)?
    • I'd have to check the LN again to be sure, but I seem to remember something about Japan-specific servers. Failing that? I'd say eleven years of tech advances might do it. Phantom Bullet takes place in 2025, plenty of time for internet connections to have gotten a lot better than they are now.
    • In the case of you meaning that they had servers in Japan itself, that would make the conflict involving contacting Zaskar null as they could just ask the people running the Japan servers of anything that they needed and they definitely couldn't refuse. In the fifth episode, though, Sinon mentions the presence of Japanese staff, which would presumably involve Japanese servers, but would almost be useless without said servers being in Japan. So there's that. Also, upon further contemplation, there ARE games like S4 League where the original servers are located in Europe but you can play just fine with a decent internet connection. But S4 League is structured on a instance basis, without much of a hub world. GGO has a giant hub world, which would inherently cause more strain on the network. As far as technological advances, it's possible if the developed world got around the pesky issues of refraction in network cables and network signals not being able to travel faster than the speed of light (or even close to because of refraction).
    • Another, and simplest reason as for why Zaskar isn't investigated by the U.S.: No credible proof it was their game causing it. No one in game even believed it, as a scene showing Kyouji/Death Gun player getting angry at players mocking the idea in a public chat forum. All of GGO thinks it's a hoax, or fake rumor. Kikouka and Kirito both were 99% sure it was not the game it self killing the players. And the best Japan's VR crimes division has, is a hunch on coincidences. Even if the U.S. Department of Justice, via FBI Computer Crimes was to investigate Zaskar, Zaskar would have no new critical information beyond what was already known, clearing them of any hand in the matter. And they'd have even less for XeXeed as he wasn't even logged into GGO at the time, instead appearing as his Avatar in a VR based news show. That's why Kikuoka needed Kirito to investigate for him.

     Yui doesn't know where babies come from? 
  • She has access to the internet and trawls for information while Kirito and Asuna are offline. How would something like that escape her research?
    • It could be that she's programmed not to look for that sort of thing. She was designed to be a counselor but also to look like a child, and it might put people off if she knew too much about "mature" topics.
    • Wasn't the entire thing a non-canon (though approved by Kawahara Reki) one off joke?
    • Turns out the real answer is that this was set before Sword Art Online was cleared, so Yui didn't have access to the internet yet.

     Bullet of Bullets strategy 
  • Why does nobody besides Kirito and Sinon think of teaming up during the early stages of the Bullet of Bullets final? After all, the prizes improve the more people you outlast, so The Hunger Games-esque temporary alliances to help you thin out the field would make sense. If you die, you're out of the tournament. If you kill, you get nothing. The way the rules are set up, your best bet is to avoid combat at all costs. This would take forever, and be boring to watch. Why don't they use rules that encourage combat? Also, given that they don't, why don't the players avoid each other more? Supposedly, the players are discouraged from camping because the satellite will reveal their position, but until late in the game, all that will mean is that everyone will avoid you so as not to risk getting killed.
    • There is a prize for most kills.
    • That would be helpful, but there still will be people going for the prize of the last man standing.
    • Also, there's a general trust issue in there as well. A lot of players probably are (somewhat understandably) wary of teaming with anyone else, especially at the BoB level. They all have expensive, rare, desirable gear, and they might be afraid that an ally would either study them and use it against them later, or simply turn on them and take their stuff.

     Why doesn't Kirito buy gear for GGO with real-world money? 
  • According to the wiki, 1 yen is 100 credits. Kirito ended up spending 300,000 credits on gear, or 3,000 yen. This is about $30. The government went through all that work to convince Kirito to look for Death Gun, and yet they couldn't spend $30 on gear?
    • It wasn't necessary. If he actually needed he might have logged out and reported expense for the credit, but he won the bullet dodge first.
    • But if he had more than 300,000 credits, he could have bought better gear. The gun he had was just the best he could get in his price range.
    • He got through SAO by having prior knowledge and later receiving a unique skill (not intentionally). He got through ALO on cheated stats (again, not intentionally). Can you really fault the guy for not trying to get any additional advantages just this once? Not to mention that he was mostly supposed to investigate the whole thing, and having pimped out gear would make him stand out. Still doesn't mean his decision wasn't stupid, but that's why.
    • And is it really at all stupid? As noted, he's essentially doing an undercover investigation. Kinda like a spy, or and undercover officer doesn't carry anything that easily ID them as such, maybe a concealable bullet resistant vest, and a handgun. Plus, at that point and time, the case really had no definitive cause to investigate further. It's noted by Kirito/Kazuto's contact in the government's VR crime division, that police had ruled the first two victims as players who died by not taking care of themselves and playing too long without a break. It's only because the self-proclaimed "Death Gun" was involved somehow in both of their virtual-selves death that they realized this might be a cyber-based murder case (which again, police ruled out initially, because the victims used Amuspheres, not NERV Gear).

     Why is the GGO currency tied to yen? 
  • From what I can gather, GGO is based in America. If the exchange rate between credits and real-world currency was set by the free market, it wouldn't be a round number in any currency. If the makers of the game are selling real money for currency, they would be basing it on US currency, so the value of a credit would be a round number of USD. Instead, it's a round number of yen. If they're selling it at a different rate in every country, then why would anyone sell a megacredit for 10,000 yen when they could sell it for $1,000 and exchange it for 10,418 yen?
    • Well hassle and exchange overcharge for one. The other would be that the Japanese-based server might have only dealt in Yen.
    • The Japanese server has 1 credit=.01 Yen. The American server, which is separate, probably has 1 credit=.01 cents=$.0001.
    • I thought MMOs let you play on any server, and you just use the one for your country because it means everyone on there speaks your language, and there's probably less lag. Also, shouldn't that be 1 credit=.1 cents=$.001?
    • No, $1~=100 Yen. 1 Yen=100 credits, so $1=10,000 credits.

     XeXeeD's Scam 

  • XeXeeD's plan to win the second BoB simply came down to convincing everybody else about how much of a Game-Breaker the AGI build was before the Nerf hit, allowing him with his STR/VIT build to get a major edge over anyone who fell for it. But that begs the question; how DID he know about the Nerf? Based on the fact that every possible threat, BoB participants who were likely hardcore GGO players, fell for it and started using AGI builds then that implies that the Nerf wasn't public knowledge since nobody would have fell for it otherwise.

     Murder in the Safe Zone 

  • Before the actual plot of the episode begins, Kirito and Asuna eat and he explains how a PK could abuse the dueling system. Asuna says that all they have to do is manipulate the person's finger into pressing the "okay" button. I thought the menu system was the last "Video gamey" thing about SAO; that part you did on your own free will. Wouldn't they have to actually touch your hand IRL?
    • Well, the Nerve Gear intercepts the signals that move your limbs and whatnot, so it wouldn't matter if they moved your hand in real life. If anything, this is a matter of why the menu would be summoned without your volition just because of a hand gesture.
    • It's not clear whether or not a menu can be summoned involuntarily (unlikely; hopefully PK'ers are intelligent to know that just stealing everything in the inventory would be a better idea in that case), but what happens with a sleep PK is actually the killer challenges the sleeper to a duel, and the sleeper gets the notification automatically, without any need to do the motion. Then the PK'er grabs their finger and touches the yes button. It appears to just be an oversight in the system, one of the errors that Kayaba's AI wouldn't have been able to spot before launch.
    • How does a duel kill work? In normal situations, you can simply stop the duel, but since they are asleep they cant?
    • The PK-er challenges the sleeping player to a duel, and moves the sleeping player's hand to accept a duel in Total Loss Mode. After that, the countdown clock begins, providing both combatants 60 seconds to prepare for the duel. Upon the expiration of the 60 seconds, the AREA protection is removed and the duel commences. A Total Loss Mode duel will not end until one of the duelists teleports away or dies. The PK-er attempts to kill the target before the target wakes up, while retaining the ability to flee if the target does wake up.
    • The P Kers featured PK either out of banking on the possibility that Kayaba was just bluffing when he said that if you die in the game, you die in real life (Rosalia & Titan's Hand) or out of some sick, twisted pleasure in doing so (Kuradeel & Laughing Coffin). But this sounds more like an issue with game design rather than an AI-spottable error.

     Destroying the microwaves power supply 
  • Seriously, it wouldn't be that hard with technologies we have today. High intensity pulse lasers could do the job easily. After all the mechanism obviously relies on a feedback loop and once the feedback loop is compromised it sends a signal to the microwave to fire them it has to draw on its power supply in order to fire the microwave beam. That takes time, time it doesn't have as a powerful enough pulse laser would destroy the power supply night instantly.
    • Destroying the power supply would be a bad idea, since if it's a battery and stores a lot of energy, it would likely kill the player in the resulting explosion. Disconnecting the power supply would be easier, so let's pretend you said that. It could have redundant power supplies so removing one from the circuit would immediately trigger the system killing the player. This would make it difficult to disarm, although if you're doing something like a pulse laser, you could still remove both simultaneously. Another possibility would be to have some circuit hidden inside the battery to make it explode if you try something like that, although it would be hard to manufacture a battery like that without people getting suspicious. It could be that Akiko was simply holding them as each other's hostages. If you break one out of the game, another dies. You could try releasing them all at once, but if you missed something and it doesn't work, they all die.
    • It IS mentioned that it has a strong battery that would still have enough energy to fry you if someone disconnected the power supply. Rather, I wonder why removing the gear wasn't an option when there was a 10 second grace period between in-game death and the mechanism starting up, during which it's presumable that the mechanism would be charging up its electromagnetic waves.
    • We're never given a figure on how long it takes to "charge" the electromagnetic waves, nor is it ever suggested that the ten-second grace period is a hardware limitation. Most likely, the ten second thing is to take into account the possible resurrection item usage or something similar, whereas outright attempting to remove the Nerve Gear would immediately trigger the deadman switch and omit the "grace period" entirely.
    • Ignoring the fact that it'd take TIME for energy to build up to fry their brains (even if it isn't, from what I gathered originally, the machinery committing suicide by overwork), there'd also need to be a sort of mechanism that signals what constitutes as an attempted removal of the helmet.
    • Time, sure, but would it be enough? As to the second point, Nerve Gear has a chin strap. I would guess that unfastening that is probably the "signal".
    • Considering that it took Kirito less than 10 seconds to take off the Nerve Gear and it otherwise doesn't look difficult enough to take off, I'm very sure it'd be enough time. As for the second point, I thought about that, too, but looking at the illustration, the chin strap doesn't seem to be mechanically connected to any mechanism. It doesn't help that the actual logistics of the Nerve Gear that involved brain-frying were never explored beyond "if someone tries to take it off, it'll fry their brain".
    • You're still assuming that the ten seconds is the charge time for the brain-frying. We don't know that. Given the way it's phrased in the item description, I actually find it distinctly unlikely. It sounds more like a relic of the originally "intended" gameplay mechanics, which Kayaba kept for whatever reason. And as for the illustrations, those prove nothing; if you compare illustrations to text, you'll actually find a fair number of errors; most notably, just about every extent illustration gets Asuna's hair color completely wrong. Artwork is not reliable evidence.
    • You're still assuming that anything could build up energy instantaneously, in the small time window that it could possibly take to take the helmet off. And as far as illustration goes, in the lack of presence of contradictory material, it really is the best thing we got. And even then, there's still me lamenting the lack of a description of the logistics behind the brain-frying mechanism in addition to citing the illustration.
    • There are these things called capacitors that store large amounts of energy and can quickly discharge it. While a high-energy capacitor would normally be used for such things as a stun gun or a defibrillator, I certainly wouldn't put it past Kayaba to build the kill mechanism in the Nerve Gear with a high-energy capacitor.
    • To elaborate slightly on the above, I never said that it was "instantaneous", just that I see no evidence whatsoever that the "ten seconds" figure is related to the deadman switch. Above troper gives an excellent possible explanation, though I will note myself that it does have a flaw: a capacitor might be slightly harder to get past quality control unsuspected, unless there was a plausible reason for it in normal operation; Kayaba didn't work in a vacuum, after all. Which is not to say I'm not prepared to believe he could have justified it. As to the illustrations? I still consider that extremely flimsy, but for the sake of argument, let's say that is an accurate representation. That still doesn't rule out the idea that the chin strap is the deadman switch. Cars from twenty or thirty years ago can tell if a seatbelt is unbuckled; the chin strap doesn't have to be any more complex than an '80's seatbelt to let the system know "Somebody's trying to remove the Nerve Gear, fry 'em!"
    • What about EMP, wouldn't that fry the circuit, I assume it wouldn't be EMP proof as it technically is a consumer electronic
    • An EMP works by inducing enough electricity to fry a circuit. It would also power whatever is sending those microwaves into the person's brain. I'm not sure how much, but it might be that a strong enough EMP to fry the circuit will necessarily strong enough to overpower the circuit that fries your brain.
    • Yes it would, but at the cost of also frying the circuits in the rest of the hospital, which means you just lost power to the Intensive Care Unit with no means of swiftly restoring it. Yes, you just saved the SAO players, but you also just killed any trauma patients in the ICU and rendered the hospital unfit for operations for months while you repair the wiring and replace damaged equipment.
    • That's not too much of a problem. Just do it in a Faraday cage. Besides, EMPs follow the inverse square law. If the closest other piece of electronics is ten times the distance as the NervGear, it would only get one one hundredth the energy.
    • Admittedly not an expert here, but perhaps there are potential adverse affects to the body? I know EMP is normally harmless to organics, but maybe having it short out something that's not only in direct contact with the body but actively influencing brain activity could have consequences. Also, there's the distinct possibility that even if it worked on one, it would immediately trigger the kill switches on all the others. I suppose you could, potentially, set it up to do all of them at once, but even leaving aside the issues of trying to set off between six and ten thousand -depending on the time frame- EMP devices simultaneously, it seems like one hell of a risk to take. That may actually be the crux of the entire problem: even if you think you've got a solution, you'd pretty much have to try it on every player at once, and if you're wrong...
    • In Sister's Prayer, Aiko reads an article about the possibility of drilling through the outer shell, but notes that there might have been a backup circuit, which is why the government's considering doing this to all 7,000 survivors' NerveGears simultaneously.
    • How are you generating the EMP to disable the circuits in the first place? Putting aside the fact that the EMP would probably trigger the emitter in the process of frying it's circuits, I'm not sure how you'd generate the pulse. We could microwave them, which has the downside of doing the NerveGear's job for it, or we could use a nuke, which... No. Obviously not an option.

     Johnny Black on the loose 
  • If Johnny Black is still at large, presumably with a syringe of succinylcholine, why wouldn't the medical staff issue Kirito and Asuna each a syringe of atropine, just in case they run into him? No doubt they would have it, considering that it's on the WHO's list of essential medicines, and besides that, Japan has suffered a sarin gas attack from terrorists, and atropine is an antidote to both succinylcholine and nerve gas.
    • Bureaucracy, mostly. They can't just give it out to anyone on suspicions that maybe perhaps for some reason they might need it in the future. That's hospital's supplies and in hospital it is to be until the time when it is needed.
    • You can't issue standard CBR supplies to a government agent who is a known target for an at-large poisoner?
    • Kirito isn't a government agent, he's a kid. His involvement in the GGO case is almost certainly illegal, because Kikuoka made no progress investigating normally, and was trying to buddy up to Kirito for his shady military AI project...

     Sinon and Kirito's looks in GGO 
  • Most people in GGO look gritty and realistic, while a few like Zexceed, Sinon and Kirito look like anime sluts. Why have such contrasting designs in the game?
    • Maybe the designers of Gun Gale Online are as big perverts as Sugou.
    • Rare avatars. For whatever reason, I know not, but that's how it is.
    • In Sinon's case, it probably is caused by some pseudo-random parameters which took brain's perception of her size to generate rough approximate of the body size. Kirito-chan maybe caused by his sheer bad luck to get female-like avatar (M9000), he perceives himself slightly smaller than he actually is probably due to comparison against Suguha. Another probable reason for Kirito is that he need to draw attention of death gun to himself. Next to being hode (which is almost impossible given the fact that the device scans brainwave and thus gender), the best he can get is to get an avatar that closely resembles female. Let's just chalk it out by concluding at fanservice as answer. Sinon has her butt and Kirito is near-indistinguishable between male and female

     Weight doesn't make a sword 

  • Why is there so much emphasis on Kirito's love for super-heavy swords throughout the first two storyline arcs? I'm no expert on swords, but it seems to me that a sword needs to be sharp, not heavy, and there's never an emphasis on Kirito's swords being an Absurdly Sharp Blade. Weight seems like the thing you'd want on a bludgeoning weapon, rather than a slicing one.
    • Heavy swords can inflict blows through armor.
    • Swords are not meant to be heavy, nor are they meant expressly to cut through armor. That's what axes are for. Even two-handed swords were fairly light, given weight distribution.
    • It's mostly about the feel. SAO simulated the feel of swinging weapons making it possible to feel how heavy a weapon is, and swords of the same category but stronger weighted more, thus making it “stronger = heavier” (in the light novel, at the time they met Sasha it was mentioned that the kids wouldn't be able to equip their swords because with the weapons' levels they required higher strength stat); thus Kirito simply got used to swords of certain weight. That is why he prefers heavier swords. And there is also the fact that the technique to use heavier swords effectively does make some use of their weight (higher momentum assuming the same arm movement speed) so when applied to a blade that is much lighter most of that is pretty much useless (which is why the weightless sword was comparatively ineffective for him in GGO).
    • The usage of momentum in swings involving heavy swords seems more likely to reduce a sword to the level of a axe or blunt than it is to actually make a sword as effective as a sword. Also, I'm fairly certain that the weightless sword was pretty effective for him in GGO until he fought Death Gun, and that was because his sword was made out of plasma whereas Death Gun's (reserve, mind you) sword was made of iron and so it phased through the plasma most of the time.
    • Incorrect: According to the SAO Wiki, Death Gun's sword, is known as a "Starship Metal Estoc", which was a sword he made using GGO's Knife And Weapon Creation skills from the highest grade metal in the game, galactic warship plate armor. Additionally, the Kagemitsu G4 is a Photon Sword. It's powerful, but it's not that powerful, and metals like that CAN stop and overpower Kirito's Photon Sword.
    • The weight of a weapon is basically it's STR requirement. Higher requirements usually mean more powerful weapons. Basic videogame logic.
    • But weight as a stat requirement and a basic level requirements are two different things. The only thing barring you from using a sword in many MMORPGs may be just its level requirement(s), but if you strip that, then anybody can use said weapon, regardless of how powerful it is, and there wouldn't be a drawback. Weight is a stat requirement that has CONTEXT, and is in CONTEXT. You literally couldn't use the sword if you couldn't meet the stat requirement, but since it's weight instead of a simple level, and weight actually means something concrete, then it'd be a factor that matters constantly.
    • Additionally pointed out in the episode where Kirito visit's Lizbeth's shop and get's Dark Repulsor, and latter, by Asuna in the episode involving Gleam Eyes and Kirito unveiling the Two Sword skill. Total gear weight is factored in, with wearing heavier equipment slowing the user's speed and attack speed down. Lizbeth's was building her weapons primarily for speed (at the cost of durability). Asuna doesn't use shields, because they slow her Rapier skills down. Kirito however, tends to focus on High Burst DPS skills, so it would appear he uses the heavier swords to have good base damage, but still decent attack speed.
    • Perhaps it's a matter of personal comfort. Kazuto may have used heavy swords in other MMOs in the past, or been a fan of such weapons in some form (TV, video games, etc), and, as such, simply feels more comfortable with that sort of heft in hand.

     Spoilers for Caliber 
  • Did Asuna's dad bother to ask her what she did during those two years she was trapped in SAO and ALO? Because you would think that if she had told him what happened to her, you'd think she would have mentioned the Self-Destruct Mechanism that Kayaba programmed into the Cardinal System. The entire existence of the Caliber side story is contingent on ALO's Cardinal System not being modified to prevent it from being able to self-destruct. Even if he's not CEO anymore, Mr. Yuuki is still a major shareholder in RECT Inc., and one would think he'd be quite interested in the fact that ALO has a latent Self-Destruct Mechanism that could be triggered by hackers or by Cardinal deciding Ragnarok would make an awesome quest. RECT stands to lose a lot of money if a bug in the Cardinal System winds up deleting their game.
    • Soon after Sugou's arrest, and Mr. Yuuki stepping down as CEO, RECT sold ALO to Ymir, a start up venture company consisting of ALO and SAO players (Which they got for a very low cost as ALO gameplay was currently suspended due to the inhumane experiments and crimes of Sugou using the game). Even if Asuna wanted her father to do something, he couldn't as his company had no more rights or control to ALO. It would be easier at that point for Asuna, Kirito and the others to inform the GM staff directly, and it was indeed an option of they considered had it not been for the fact that Ymir's offices were closed due to it being a Sunday, and during the holidays.

     Floor Bosses Killing NPCs 

  • As one point in the Aincrad, Asuna talks about luring the Floor Boss out of its room and having it attack NPCs as a distraction. The problem is, its explicitly mentioned later that bosses can't leave their rooms. So what's the deal here? Was this just a one-off boss that could leave it's room? Did they not know at that point that bosses couldn't leave their rooms?
    • It was a field boss, actually, not a floor boss. As far as I can recall, the only time a field boss has actually been shown was in the Progressive manga, so we don't have many details about how they work, but they are definitely very different from Floor Bosses, situationally speaking.
    • The Progressive novel describes field bosses as basically being roadblocks to keep players from reaching the labyrinth too easily. Some are even physically larger than the floor bosses (still nowhere near as powerful, obviously). One could possibly be lured into town, assuming it was made to more harass other players than to keep them from reaching a specific part of the map. Until Progressive reaches that point, it's unlikely we'll learn specifics about that particular one, though.
      • There was a dounjinshi released that Reki Kawahara might have had a hand in that focused on that particular boss. The field boss was a giant monster with an armored front stationed in a narrow canyon. The canyon walls were too steep to climb and the monster was too big to maneuver around, so players had no way to access it's weak spot. Asuna's plan involved leading it to a village at the opening of the canyon. (And honestly, no one else could figure out how to beat it without massive casualties.) It wasn't until they triggered an in town event with the Non Player Characters that they found a way to put the boss to sleep so they could climb over it and attack from behind.

     Wouldn't death still be traumatic? 

  • Even if it doesn't result in actual death, it still seems like some of the ways people die in these games would cause some amount of psychological trauma. This is something that occurred to me while watching the Phantom Bullet arc what with people being shot all the time. Even if there's no pain (and why there would EVER be a pain setting like the end of Fairy Dance showed is ridiculous) there still seems to be a physical reaction. Like at the end of the Bullet of Bullet tournament when Sinon shoots the last remaining competitor so he can't interfere with Kirito and Death Gun's duel and she blows a huge gaping hole in his chest that sends him shooting backwards a good ten meters or so. Or Kirito bisecting Death Gun, or Sinon blowing her and Kirito up with a grenade to win via Double Kill. Or Dyne getting a faceful of buckshot from Pale Rider. Even ALO seems like it could get messy what with being stabbed or even losing simulated limbs; I mean, there's a difference between seeing that happen to a remotely controlled character on a screen and having that happen directly to you in a VR environment. I get why that might be useful in say, military training (and I guess also in that case a pain receptor of some sort would make a little sense, but surely not the civilian models) but not in the WoW equivalent. It seems like dying in such graphic ways as the series shows are possible would still be freaky for people to experience.
    • They would establish what people can take without risk of trauma before releasing any games publicly. For all we know, the characters are logged off immediately and any apparent reaction is from an AI. I suspect you're underestimating what people can take, though. It's not like people get traumatized by nightmares. Pain can be fun, which is the main reason people play paintball when they could be playing laser tag. Also, Alfheim Online was a mod of Sword Art Online, which had pain for obvious reasons.
    • Also, dissociation. To most players, besides a small number of slightly unhealthy fanatics, it's just a game. They would be no less traumatized than, say, a person playing Resident Evil or Dead Space and dying from those things.

    Forced disconnects for the ALO mind-control subjects 
  • What would have happened if people in the real world had attempted to forcefully disconnect the NerveGears of those who were brought to ALO for use in the mind control experiment? Would they die just the same as if it had been attempted while they were in SAO, or would they live because it was a different program? (Of course, since ALO was built on SAO, it's possible that it would still include the function to kill the player in the event of a disconnection.)
    • Presumably, the danger of removing the NerveGear is still very much present. Even if it wasn't, no one had any way of knowing for sure unless they tested it out by removing one from a patient. And considering 213 players have explicitly died from just that at the beginning of SAO, you can probably understand the hesitation in trying that.

    What's your beef, Kibaou?! 
  • In episode 2 of the anime, Kibaou accuses Kirito of withholding information about the boss, thus causing Diavel's death. Before then, though, he clearly saw Diavel's avatar vanish in Kirito's arms, with Kirito holding a potion that Diavel refused, and before even then, Kirito tried to warn Diavel when he noticed the boss had a different weapon than in beta. He saw Kirito trying to help, so why turn around and claim him to be culpable in Diavel's demise?
    • SAO Progressive's Aria in the Starless Night goes a bit further into it. In the novel, Kirito didn't just notice the weapon was different than in the beta, he recognized the attacks the boss was using, which hadn't appeared until higher floors in the beta. He didn't impart that knowledge immediately because of how Kibaou was acting, but did later start yelling instructions to the rest of the raid team as the boss was using its attacks. As the novel wasn't published until after the anime series was in production, Kawahara likely didn't have all of the details down, but apparently did have an outline available which included the major plot points, which were similar between the two media.
    • Actually, the original Aria in the Starless Night was written well before it was published in Progressive; I myself read it months before the anime even began. More likely, those details were removed to fit the story into a single episode, along with a whole slew of other omissions. Unsurprising, considering that Aria by itself is over half the length of the first light novel.

    Liz's IRL hair color? 
  • So the mirror in SAO is supposed to reformat your avatar's appearance to look exactly like your IRL one, right? We totally see that with Kirito, Klein, Asuna, and just about everybody else... except Liz, who for some reason, is rose-haired in-game, but is a brunette IRL. She has this difference with no real explanation (at least in the series). Does the Light Novel have an explanation for this? Is it that her hair was dyed when she logged in, and just wore off before we see her at school? Is it that she found some in-game hair dye between the first episode and the time we first see her? Is it a production error? If you can get away with red heads like Asuna and Klein, why not Liz? Sort of just bugs me that everybody looks exactly like their mirrored avatars IRL, except for Liz.
    • In the first episode, you can see Liz in the background, and she's a brunette. Likewise, the picture she has in her shop shows her with her natural hair color. Presumably she just found some sort of hair-dye item in the game. Most MMO's allow minor customization like that.
    • Volume 2 of the light novels states that, like the maid-like outfit, Lizbeth turned her hair pink to attract customers (on Asuna's advice, more specifically).

     Wouldn't the hospitals eventually need to make room for New Patients? 

  • Like if the hospital got over crowded for whatever reason(Some sort of disaster for example), wouldn't they have to consider "pulling the plug" on some of the players? Especially since after a year, they might be considered lost causes. It would be an uncomfortable situation, but Hospital resources are not unlimited. While we are on the topic, would the players stuck in the game be treated similarly to coma patients?
    • A couple of points regarding this. First, Ethics code would prevent that, and it's likely the SAO Volunteer Team (which included Kikouka and Nurse Aki), that was latter turned into Japan's VR Crime Division took steps to make sure Victims were sent to hospitals based on nearby location, and capacity. (Though another possible question is: "Were all 10,000 players in Japan alone?") Second: as it became a National crisis at least in Japan, it's likely the Japanese Government, and Charities pitched in to help cover the cost and aid. It's implied that Nurse Aki, being a JSDF Nurse, and Kirito's physician, especially for his recovery, was asked, or volunteered to assist. Finally: It's kinda glossed over, but the beginning of the Fairy Dance, Phantom Bullet, and Mother's Rosario, and Underworld arcs all briefly touch base that since the SAO incident, VR and Medical technology research had a boom over the need to help the victims, and study further of the effects of VR systems and the human body. Because of this, those two years were probably used to help aid in such care. (The Medicuboids that Yuuki began testing, and the release of the Amuspheres as well as ALO was in 2023 of the story, not even a full year of the November 6th 2022 start of the SAO incident).
    • Kayaba had presumably told them that there was a way to escape so condoned mass murder would likely result in huge societal outrage. That said, there are a number of bridge options before pulling the plug. For example, the government could probably find an office building or something that they could transfer the patients to which, hopefully, would not be as expensive as a full hospital suite. They don't need a lot of specialized equipment and while there are some sanitation concerns that you'd need to adapt the office to, it shouldn't be insanely difficult to make such accommodations.

    GGO's Equipment Effects? 
  • So, perhaps someone can help clear some of this up for me, I'll break it up into various points for easy of answering:
  • Question 1: We're told that the key difference between Optic, or Energy weapons, and Solid round weapons, is that Energy weapons are significantly lighter weight for the gun and ammo, but come at the cost that in Player Versus Player, they are less effective because energy shielding devices reduce damage from such attacks by 50% according to Sinon. Yet, in the introductory battle, between Sinon's and Dyne's squad, versus the monster hunting team and Behemoth, when Ginrou and Dyne are shot at by the other party's energy weapons, the beams harmlessly dissipate around their shields (and watching the HUD appearance, neither one's health drops, though Dyne's health does once his barrier his shattered from continued shots). So which effect is true? Or is it that certain equipment has different defense effects?
  • Question 2: Why use so many Real world weapons in a futuristic Cyberpunk setting? Aside from convenience at having an easy to develop combat system, considering the lore in GGO is that Humanity has Space Battleships (The main town is apparently formed from a former Space Battle Cruiser Glocken). Surely there would be some custom futuristic solid projectile guns at that point?. So why are no original projectile guns from Zeskar aside from the energy weapons?
    • Real world weapons likely won't improve much. Attempts have been made to use modern technology to make guns that are significantly better than they were decades ago, and they have failed. Tiny improvements can only be made at significant increase in cost and decrease in reliability. Besides, it's just a game. Anyone who cares about guns will like that it uses guns they know about, and anyone who doesn't care, won't care.
  • Question 3:: Equipment Weight: We're told Strength is important for carrying capacity. It effects what's the heaviest guns you can use, how much equipment you can carry, how spare ammo you can bring along, etc. Yet, Kirito mentions to Sinon he was able to hide from the first Satellite scan because he was swimming underwater, and to do so, he simply un-equipped all his gear, and moved it to inventory to prevent any equipment penalties, or water damage. How does the weight limit system work then?
    • Players wouldn't normally remove all of their equipment because that leaves them completely defenseless. Also, it presumably takes a little time to remove and re-equip one's gear, making this tactic even less useful.
  • Question 4: Weapon power? We're told that GGO takes realism serious enough, that they factored in various weather effects (Wind Speed, humidity, current weather conditions, etc). We're told throughout the arc, some decently researched facts, especially when Sinon explains the idea of gun and bullet designs to Kirito, who has only a very basic understanding of guns, such as why the FN Five-seveN is considered a decent gun for Kirito to make up for the lack of him using a longarm note . and the fact that Sinon's Hécate II is a .50 BMG Anti-Material sniper rifle put's out so much damage. But, the novels and anime, seem to also imply that weapon rarity is a factor to strength. XeXeed's XM-29note  fires 5.56mm rounds from the rifle portion. Yamikaze's Calico M900-A fires 9mm pistol roundsnote  is also noted as being strong for it's rarity, and thus "more powerful". So if the game is considered realistic and well researched on it's guns, why would those weapons, which fire common rounds, be any more stronger than guns which use the same ammo? Or is this a case of liberties being taken via Video Game logic, similar to say, Call of Duty?
    • If they're future versions of contemporary weapons, it is likely the ammo and the guns are modified while retaining the same caliber. It was in the '70s that depleted uranium rounds were developed by the US Army to counter PKKA armor, and the existence of unknown alloy(s) are mentioned. Perhaps rarity has something to do with what materials were used with generic blueprints or the inclusion of Lost Technology parts.

    Alfheim Online 
  • So nobody had a problem with Alfheim Online, the Sword Art Online successor that put a heavier emphasis on fighting and killing other players? Especially since the Fairy Dance arc takes place 2 months after the SAO incident, meaning the game had to be announced, developed and most likely released while people were still dying in Aincrad.
    • Well, according to the timeline of events, ALO is created about a year after the start of the SAO incident, in Novembernote . Additionally, the Amusphere is created in May of that year. While it's never really discussed further in the anime, there's a line at the end of Season 1, in the epilogue episode where Kirito mentions that after Sugou's and the mind control VR lab staff are arrested, that pretty much all VRMMO games got shut down temporarily as a result of the events (ALO is shut down from about the End of January 2025 until April of that year, The Seed program is released by Agil and Kirito in February). Given these factors, my best guess: Sugou told Mr. Yuuki (Asuna's father) that a good way to help RECT Progress cover the cost of SAO server upkeep, would be to sell ALO (and probably subscriptions for it), and the Amusphere which RECT had developed. They could use it to advertise how much safer they had made VR games to prevent another SAO incident. That said, as Kirito mentioned, the result of two major crimes and scandals did nearly put the VR gaming world out of commission. It was only because of the Seed's release, the Amusphere's safety features, and people still willing to play VRMMO games that they didn't collapse.
    • That still doesn't explain why Distanced from Current Events didn't seem to exist when ALO was first released. I don't care how much RECT marketed the safety of their games. It would be PR suicide to not only release a game that is essentially a spinoff of the game that had kidnapped and killed thousands of people but to also released it while the incident was still happening. Why wasn't there any public outcry against what can only be described as apathy by publisher?
    • What I'm saying is that there was public outcry (ARGUS, the company behind SAO, went bankrupt soon after the start of the incident after being sued by families of SAO players who were trapped, or killed already in game, RECT took over the servers afterwards). And who's to say RECT announced anything about it being based on SAO's systems? Yet, the series makes it clear. Even after TWO major scandals connected to each other (the SAO incident, and the ALO illegal brainwashing/mental conditioning) VRMMO's were being made soon after the Seed got released. There was public outcry, but there was still consumer demand for VRMMOs.
    • And what I'm saying is that we never see any of the public outcry. We never see any of the controversy or consequences that would arise from these scandals. All we got was a couple of throwaway scenes that say VR games are still being made because they're popular. We only ever see one side of the argument of whether or not VR games should still be made or not.
    • And another thing, why was ALO even allowed to be released in the first place? There should have been government embargoes and investigations that would have lasted months, if not years, after the SAO incident ended. And even if they were allowed to make more games, government regulation and oversight should be so great that no company would want to make any new games.
    • The regulatory pressure was probably all focused on the hardware that actually did the killing, hence the Amusphere. Whatever should have been looked into with regard to the ALO software... obviously wasn't, since the mind control stuff wasn't discovered. In any case, there's no real-life precedent for anything like a video game forcing people to keep playing it and killing them if they lose, so there's no telling what would really happen to other games if it did happen.
    • If there was no precedent for a relatively new technology that had caused a major incident then all production and services of the technology would be put on hold as new standards for it were being created.
    • Part of the reason that the outcry may not have been as visible is that the technology itself wasn't actually at fault. The VR tech already existed. SAO was the best game so far that used it, but the tech wasn't actually new. Kayaba took an existing technology and altered it so it could kill. So the outcry may have been less "here's this horribly dangerous technology we need to do something about" and more "we need to do something to make sure we don’t have killers programming games".
    • RCT probably took on tremendous legal risks and huge operating costs to keep Sword Art Online running and prevent the players from dying. Perhaps nobody else would do it, and one of RCT's conditions was that they be allowed to market VR games as soon as (safely) possible so they could start making money to offset those costs.
    • This implies that the government wasn't overseeing the SAO incident or giving financial support to keep the servers running.

    Dual Wielding 
  • In Episode 4 of the SAO arc, one of the orange guild members is dual wielding axes. How is this different from Kirito's dual wielding? Is it because the axes are smaller?
    • I'm assuming you're a fan of SAO abridged. yes, that was a big error on the animator's part. The light novel isn't descriptive of the weapons Titan's Hand members used, but most likely, the animators hadn't read the novel or been told not to have characters duel wield weapons. This error then got past the editor and everyone else, because you have to pay close attention in that scene to see that. Either that, or they noticed it but were too rushed to release the episode to fix it. The only reason that would make sense in the anime would be that guild member had higher reaction speed than Kirito, but Kirito's reflexes got better and he was given the skill and the skill was taken away fro the guild member. Most likely though, the animators screwed up.
    • Anyone could fight Axes Akimbo, but Kirito has the unique Dual-Blades Sword Skill™, which gives him advantages when he uses his two swords together.
    • The biggest advantage with Dual-Blades isn't the ability to use two swords, it's the ability to use the sword skills that go with it (in particular, Starburst Stream, which Kirito uses on the Gleam-Eyes and later Heathcliff). I think it was mentioned in either a novel or manga that dual-wielding was quite possible in SAO without a particular skill, but since no known sword skills utilized dual-wielding, it was rare, and instead most players who would have dual wielded instead went for two-handed weapons or sword and shield (explicitly stated by Asuna when asking Kirito about why he used a heavier long sword one-handed without a shield).
    • There's nothing in the games that actually prevents players from using a weapon in each hand, it's just not very practical for the average player, no more than it would be in the real world. When Kirito transfers his character from SAO into ALO, his "Dual Blades" skill doesn't transfer over, but that doesn't keep him from borrowing Leafa's katana and fighting with a sword in each hand.
    • To unify what's already said: anyone can hold two weapons in SAO - they just can't fight effectively with them. The light novels, which give a lot more information on the actual mechanics of the game, it's explained that how much damage a weapon deals depends on how it is equipped and what "sword skills" you are using with it. The anime somehow completely fails to explain sword skills, but basically, just swinging a weapon at an enemy does barely anything. Instead, you have to use specific attacks (sword skills), which are preset movements that your body will automatically go through once you initiate them by posing in a specific position. Any time you see someone do an attack and it glows, that's because it's a sword skill. Sword skills can't be interrupted when started, so SAO players use the "switch" system of leapfrogging eachother with attacks, so as to cover eachother during their moves' laggy ending frames. But, they're way faster than players can move otherwise which is why Yuuki is such a big deal in ALO, which adds a feature to record your own movements to make original sword skills - she creates sword skills that are way faster than any normal player can move), and are the only way to deal real damage. The beginning scene where Klein gets messed up by a generic boar was an introduction to this in the novel. He can barely hurt it, because he's just swinging his sword instead of equipping it through the right menu and using its sword skills. Players with extremely high stats can actually fight with that scratch damage, but it isn't optimal. Kirito is forced to do this against Kayaba in the final battle, since Kayaba, being a dev, would know all of his sword skills and be able to block them all. The whole reason Kirito loses that duel in the light novel is because he gets overconfident right at the end and triggers a 24-hit dual-wield skill The Eclipse (replaced in the anime with Starburst Stream, the 16-hitter he used against Gleameyes), which Kayaba then perfect-blocks as expected.

      So all of that explanation out of the way: the random dual-axes guy, and anyone else, can definitely just equip one weapon and spawn another one straight from their inventory and hold both. But only the one equipped properly would have access to sword skills or do any meaningful damage. In order to properly equip both at once, and thus be able to use sword skills with both at once, you need Kirito's unique skill. Heathkliff's unique skill (which might not have even been mentioned in the anime?) is the same way - literally anyone can just equip a shield, but only by having his unique skill can you equip it *as a weapon*, letting you do offensive shield skills with it for meaningful damage.

      ALO, which just uses realistic sword combat, allows dual-wielding 100%. But then, dual-wielding isn't very practical irl anyway, which is probably why we don't see it except from Kirito. It'd just be rare. When ALO adds in the sword skill system along with Castle Aincrad, the dual-wielding skill/sword skills aren't included. But since you don't need to equip weapons SAO-style in ALO in the first place, you can technically do one-handed sword skills with either. Kirito figures out that if you create a new one-handed sword skill via the recording system, in such a way that the ending position of a skill with one sword is the triggering position of a skill with the other, then the second skill will animation-cancel the first one and they'll chain together without any ending lag. He pseudo-dual-wields in post-Fairy Dance ALO this way.

    You can't log out!? 
  • Does this really need elaboration? You can't log out during Bullet of Bullets? For what conceivable reason would that rule possibly be in place other than as a plot device to inconvenience the protagonists? And for that matter, why are they even allowed to disable that? In the immortal words of Beatrice the Golden Witch, "How many people have to die before this shit becomes illegal!?"
    • A poorly designed anti-exploit feature. It's only inconvenient because there's no Alt-F4 equivalent. A better question is why they didn't just commit suicide.
    • Because committing suicide during BoB doesn't free you from that constraint. I don't recall if the anime makes that clear, but the novel does. That's why everyone killed normally during BoB lies there with a funny little "DEAD" flag instead of de-rezzing and respawning. The player is basically stuck sitting there until it ends. Besides, there absolutely is an Alt-F4 equivalent, too. Several of them, in fact. To the point where Sinon almost accidentally logs out before Kirito calms her down. The no-logout rule isn't what keeps them from logging out, it's that they figure out the murderer is literally sitting next to Sinon in the real world that does. They're afraid that if she sees the culprit, she'll be killed regardless of whether Death Gun gets her or not. Thus they have to defeat Death Gun and hope the murderer leaves. Which he does.

    The Shinkawa Brothers 
  • In Phantom Bullet, it turns out that Shouji gets 500,000 yen a month (more than enough to buy a 300,000 yen invisibility cloak). Meanwhile, his little brother, Kyouji, essentially can only get set up in GGO by using his Amusphere for tutoring, and his only hope of continuing to play is winning his subscription fee by himself (3,000 yen a month), something he has trouble doing so since the nerf to AGI. What might the reason be for how one brother gets a lot of money each month, while the other gets hardly any?
    • Because Kyouji is a lazy student who spend his time playing in GGO, his parents stopped giving him money because of his bad grades.

     What would've happened if Kayaba's digital spirit never showed up in Episode 24? 
  • In Episode 24, when Kirito is about to give up, Kayaba's digital spirit shows up to give him a Heroic Second Wind and give him his administrator status and privelages to take Sugou/Oberon down. What would've happened if Kayaba never showed up? Would Kirito never get another chance to save Asuna and stop Sugou?
    • Basically. Sugou would have done what he said he was going to do, i.e. rape, torture and kill the protags.
    • On the plus side, Sugou's mind control program only worked on the NerveGear device, not the upgraded Amusphere. So at least he wouldn't have been controlling the world or raking in money or whatever else he decided. Small favors.
      • But wouldn't he just find a way to make his program work on the Amusphere devices eventually if he wasn't stopped, though?
      • That depends on what exactly the reason was that it wouldn't work at first. If the mind control required the powerful, potentially-deadly microwaves that the NerveGear used then there was no way to make it work.
    • In Volume 4, Oberon tells Kirito that because he used the NerveGear he's "no less helpless than any of (Sugou's) test subjects." After defeating Oberon and logging off, Kazuto wisely decides not to tell Suguha that he had "nearly been taken prisoner again, and this time in a prison without any victory condition to free (him)."

    The Winners of the Bullet of Bullets 
  • Phantom Bullet spoilers ahead. Did Sinon ever get her prizes for winning the Bullet of Bullets tournament? Kirito not getting the prizes is understandable: he didn't put in his information. Sinon, on the other hand...
  • After reading the light novel, I think Kirito would still get the prize money. In the light novel you have to put your information to opt for receiving the physical prize instead. The way it is described in Volume 6, the prize money shouldn't be a problem - it's just in-game currency. So they don't need your info to transfer it to you.

  • How do players playing for long periods of time not develop bedsores? The people trapped in SAO had staff to alleviate this, and Kirito had a nurse watching him during his time in GGO, but what about the average player?
    • I'd assume that it's up to the player to be responsible and look after themselves. For example, someone who plays an N64 for hours on end is likely to hurt their thumb, and that wouldn't be Nintendo's responsibility.

    The Amuspheres can detect medical emergencies but don't contact emergency services? 
  • During the GGO arc, we see that whenever Death Gun kills one of his victims, they are forced disconnected from the game because the players Amuspheres detect critical vital levels. This even becomes a point of drama twice latter on when first, Sinnon begins to have a panic attack at the danger of the situation, and nearly trips the heart rate sensor until Kirito helps calm her down. And it's briefly brought up latter on when Kirito is pushing himself to his limits to fight Death Gun/Sterben, and begins to suffer from dehydration in the real world, to the point that Nurse Aki is ready to manually shutdown Kirito's connection. Yet earlier in the story arc, Kikuoka mentions from the police reports that both of Death Gun's first two victims were not found until days after their deaths. This seems a bit surprising, especially given that its also mentioned in materials that it also has a brain wave monitor, no internal battery (to prevent a repeat of someone trying Kayaba's threats again), doesn't block 100% of the user's normal senses, and even includes an optional auto-disconnect feature should the user fall asleep in game, as well when a pre-set list of family and friends, or if emergency services call. So if they have a way to log out a user and shutdown their Amusphere remotely, why wouldn't it contact them when it realizes something is seriously medically wrong with a player then?
    • It could possibly be a minor design flaw in the Amusphere since even with the added safety it's not perfect (such as while it can log you out from detecting a house fire, you still have to be able to escape the flames yourself), perhaps being unable to detect brain waves is making it registering the lack of them as a player simply not wearing it and it's unable to directly notice the difference between being unable to detect them due to it being removed, and said brain waves suddenly vanishing. Provided the Amusphere can get updated like the various VRMMOs, this problem may have been amended, but if not...

    Transporting trapped players to hospitals 
  • That all ten thousand (or very close to that) trapped players were successfully transported to hospitals raises so, so many questions for me. I can think of explanations for some of those, but here's one I can't figure out: The NerveGear helmets are shown to connect to the internet by cable. How could the players be moved without breaking that connection?
    • There's a throwaway line mentioned in the anime between Asuna and Kirito (mid way through the SAO arc if I recall) that early on in the crisis, Kayaba made a deal with law enforcement and emergency aid negotiators. He gave them some time to transport players out of their homes to hospitals and clinics. During the process, the players avatars were put into sleep mode and since the Nerve Gear helmets had the internal battery back up, this meant that Kayaba still had some form of control over the victims.

    Where are the government hackers, white hat hackers and Anonymous during the death game? 
  • Seriously, here we have one of the largest hostage situations in human history and its based around being stuck in a computer. Hell, even Kirito was able to hack Sword Art Online WHILE INSIDE THE GAME! Also, the fact that it took 2 YEARS for the people to be free. I understand that it would take time to free the people in SAO, but still, THIS IS THE LARGEST HOSTAGE SITUATION IN HUMAN HISTORY! Governments would be involved. A combination of civilian and governmental hackers and computer experts should have been able to free the people of SAO before Kirito ended the event. Its understandable of the whole "Its a story, so there is suspense of disbelief" but this is a rather large suspense of disbelief.
  • SAO could easily have been set up to kill all the players if it detected any attempt to hack everyone free from outside. Alternately, this could have been part of the above-mentioned deal with law enforcement; Kayaba allowed the players to be moved on the condition that nobody try to interfere in the game.
  • First, you are assuming that no one was trying. You are also making the erroneous assumption that the connections didn't have their own security algorithm. Even a fairly low cost security algorithm would take the best supercomputers in the world years at best to brute force open unless they got lucky for just one. Especially if it is one that was purpose made. Who's to say that they weren't trying? Most of what goes behind a successful hack is social engineering and taking advantage of the one weakness of any software security, the users themselves. Kirito could hack from inside, yes, but that was from inside. Even then, he only had a short period of time and he was more focused on ensuring Yui wasn't deleted, rather than getting everyone out due to his own mental state at the time.

    Why isn't Eiji ever arrested for physical assault? 
  • In Ordinal Scale, Eiji is seen roaming the city physically assaulting other players, going so far as to breaking limbs which requires months of hospitalization. Now, this would be perfectly fine if this were in a virtual world, but Eiji is literally physically assaulting other people in the real world, who are using advanced personal Augma systems that basically record everything they see and instantly access the personal information of the people around them. How did Eiji manage to not only escape arrest, but any sort of police suspicion whatsoever?
    • Eiji did turn himself in. However, since the victims are only Furinkazan members and they did not mentioned his name, he basically got away free because of their mercy. The rule is that a suspect cannot be convicted without the victim's approval. Its different story if someone is dead because of Eiji assault. That is under murder which you would not get away with even if the victim's family permitted you to be free.

    The presence of SAO bosses in Ordinal Scale. 
  • Ordinal Scale uses literal copies of old SAO bosses as enemies. However, the company that developed the Augma is different from the one that actually owns the rights to all SAO IP and copyrights, which also happens to own a competing game (Alfheim Online) on a competing format (NervGears). How was it possible that OS was able to obtain the rights to assets owned by one of their direct competitors, and if the assets were stolen, how come the company that owned ALO didn't do anything about it? In Japan, one of the countries that most strictly enforces copyright laws?
    • Who's to say they were stolen? For all we know, a lot of negotiations went on behind the scenes for this and it was left out of the movie simply because it wasn't pertinent to the plot.

    Why couldn't Shigemura just have stolen everybody's memories right off the bat? 
  • The Augma system Shigemura developed relies on a network of drones hovering around the city to relay data, and it's explained that it's these drones that are remotely scanning former SAO players' brains through their Augmas. Theoretically, this means that Shigemura could have literally just taken all of the SAO players' memories at any time that he wanted. Why jump through unnecessary hoops like conditioning the scan to only happen if a player is defeated by a boss, or organize an extremely obvious trap by luring all of the SAO players to a stadium to be scanned at once, which would result in him killing all of them in the process?
    • Before the Augma could scan the SAO players' memories of the game, it first had to identify precisely where in their brains those memories were stored. The SAO bosses were a means of accomplishing this, by getting the players to think back to their time in SAO. However many SAO survivors likely didn't even play Ordinal Scale, let alone fight the exclusive SAO bosses. The concert was a way to draw as many SAO survivors as possible into one area (Remember how all kids at the school for SAO survivors got free tickets?) where the Ordinal Scale infrastructure (the drones) could handle putting bosses in front of every one of them. It's possible the need for the lethal power amplifiers was because of this as well - the system couldn't handle scanning that many players at once, so it had to be overclocked? I don't know. Regardless, there was definitely a revenge element at play with Shigemura as well, which explains the darker elements here. He says something along the lines of forcing everyone to experience death at the hands of a boss just like his daughter did. This is the (il)logical explanation for why players fighting during the events would only lose their memory when killed. Otherwise there's really no reason why they needed to lose at all, only fully remember their experiences in SAO. Asuna only did so when killed, but Klein was traumatized enough just when he was forced to stare at the boss, if the light turning on on his Augma was an indication. As further proof of the fact that they didn't need to die ingame for it to work, they outright didn't need to during the final battle at the stadium. That meter counting up that Shigemura was watching was tracking how much progress the Augma had made in identifying the survivors' relevant memories, which corresponded to how strongly the SAO survivors were recalling their experiences in the trauma of the moment. Once enough people's memories of SAO were identified, the scan would run, collect all of their data, and kill them, regardless of if they died in Ordinal Scale or not.

      The real question is why so many clearly traumatized people didn't take their Augmas off in that stadium, why the Augma suddenly forgot what neurons corresponded to the survivors' SAO memories once they calmed down, why Yuna had a ghost in the Augma when personality-reading data (the reason Griselda, Heathcliff, and briefly Kirito, were able to become ghosts in the Cardinal system) was possible when we were specifically told the Augma uses a new Ordinal system, by extension how Kayaba was able to appear in the Augma when it doesn't use the Cardinal system, why Eiji could do weird matrix shit in real life just by having some special AR tech, how Shigemura even accessed the SAO server when it was owned by a rival company, why Kirito and gang needed to fulldive and fight Aincrad's floor 100 boss in the first place (Unless it was legit just to get the OP sword and beat the event using his ingame avatar instead of real body? I don't know.), why Yuna's data was inextricably linked to a random boss enemy in the SAO server,etc., etc., etc., etc...
    • Concerning Eiji's "matrix shit": he seems to be using some sort of suit that augments his abilities, especially his strength. It's not clear exactly how that works, but it's why it glows and makes that buzzing sound at certain points, most noticeable when he breaks Klein's arm. It also allows him to predict the paths of objects so he can dodge them, seen clearly when Klein attacks him.

      As for beating the floor 100 boss, it might be a combination of acquiring the weapon (although I don't know why the final boss of SAO would drop anything, considering the game should have been ending immediately afterward, unless that wasn't part of the pre-death game design) as well as gaining the massive XP to achieve rank 1.

      Apparently, her data was linked to the final boss because of sharing the language engine or something, but honestly this doesn't make much sense to me for several reasons. One is that there should be a distinction between code and data. Another is that there's no sign the boss makes any use of language whatsoever, for listening or for speaking, in contrast to e.g. certain NPCs in ALO that actually have conversations with players. It only seems to act like a regular non-speaking boss monster.

    How the hell did Shigemura escape government oversight when developing Augma? 
  • Considering that Augma has the potential to kill players in the exact same way the original NervGears did, how the hell did that design feature slip past government safety inspections? Especially after the safety craze in response to the SAO crisis that resulted in the development of next generation NervGears with specific safeguards installed? Maybe if it was a completely private venture it would be possible, but it's stated that the government subsidized the development of Augma. How could the government, still reeling from the SAO crisis, have let such a critical safety oversight go by under their watch?
    • Bureaucratic red tape, he could be let off the hook as long as he passed something else in return.

     Why didn't anyone call a expert to alter the circuits on the NerveGear so the battery can't power the microwave transmitter, thus stopping people's brains from being fried? 
  • Ex-actly what i wrote in the folder title. Nobody, absolutely nobody realized that given enough time, expertise and care, a engineer could alter the circuits and stop the NerveGear battery from activating the transmitter? Seriously? And i'm not just talking about the combined numbers of low hundreds of thousands of parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins...(if we count friends that number could be on the high hundreds of thousands. Heck, counting acquinttaces it could be about a million even. Counting the people who didn't know the victims but were worried and were trying to figure out a way to help's a god damn ninety percent of Japan.)i'm also talking about the fucking Japanese government, which is highly competent, at least IRL. Also, where's the japanese government's supercomputers working to stop the NerveGear's signals? Where are the presumably millions of technofreaks thinking up ways to disable the NerveGear? Where's the own engineers offering their help? Where's the company who created the NerveGear trying to help instead of just shutting down like they did on the actual anime? WHERE's ANYONE WITH HALF A BRAIN?
    • This has been handled many times. Kayaba made a deal/threat with government that he would be allowed to continue the game because he has about ten thousand people as "hostage". Government do not interfere, the hostages stays alive (until the game is cleared).
    • The problem about this is that they HAVE to physically tamper with the device. You think Kayaba wouldn't notice that the player count getting lower which would cause him to press the kill switch. Sure you got a few people out, but you just doomed the rest of the players.

     How did Yuuki and her family contract and die from HIV in the first place? 
  • Yuuki was born in the year 2010, long after the invention of the HIV drug cocktail. Furthermore, Japan has one of the most advanced medical programs in the world. As such, she and her family could easily receive treatment from the virus before it developed into AIDS.
    • It was established that she, specifically, had a strain that was especially drug resistant. As for her family, they probably had a strain that was similarly drug resistant and the fact is that the drugs that did work could have been too expensive to afford over time, even with insurance.
  • Also, hospitals in industrialized nations are required to perform HIV screenings on all donated blood, so the hospital staff should've known right away that it was infected, and given them blood that they knew was safe. Either the hospital staff bought their medical licenses from the black market, or knew that the blood was infected and just didn't give a shit about the consequences.
    • It heavily depends on how recent the infection was. Someone who was infected less than six months ago has a fairly high chance to come up negative as the HIV antibodies haven't sufficiently percolated through that a screening will normally detect it.
     Why does the VRMMOs made from the World Seed not allow a person to have a more than one account and has to transfer from another to play a different MMO? 
  • I am thinking about the current way that MMOs are played where a person can have an account along with being able to create multiple characters with limited slots for each. In SAO, the VRMMOs created by the World Seed allows one person to play one MMO with one character (that they can't even customize) along with how you need to transfer your account to play a different one which would make such an attribute to be unfair consider what is capable from MMOs in reality.
    • The MMO's do allow more than one account per game at least since Asuna has two characters on her account. I think the swapping mechanic helps keep stats up so you don't have to constantly grind and so that you don't have to keep paying for a game you aren't playing. I'm more baffled that out of the many mmo's she tried out none had customizable human like characters.
    • I thought that Asuna had gotten antoher character in ALO contrary to the Queen Titania one she had while held hostage with her new VR console. Another question would come in how the stats would regulate properly from on game to another if they have different stats from the others that would have different mechanics and functions? I also would like to know how it would make sense and have a proper balance of gameplay to not have the player grind and level up compared to keeping the same level from a different game? How would it be fair to level grind in one game, transfer into another would bring an upset if people used this feature just to seem like they can gain an unfair advantage to those who put time and practice within the game? There is also how can profit be made by different game companies if a player has not bought a copy of the game from an entirely different company?
     Kirito's Self-image issues and where they came from 
  • Where did Kirito's Issues with who he was come from, from all I've read and seen, (as of this moment 174 pages into SWO 18) i never saw this anywhere, so how come this happened so out of left field? aside from bullshit drama preservation.
    • It didn't come from left field. It's been established early on that he didn't take it too well learning he was adopted. It caused small chain reactions that lead to him being the way he is now. Seriously, try being a 10(est.) year old kid who accidentally figured out that you're adopted after having believed your whole life you were a biological child.
    • I think Sachi is the bigger starting point. Yeah, she's forgotten by that point but I believe you can trace his Chronic Hero Syndrome back to Sachi. He carries the burden of believing himself responsible for their death for a long time and while it is somewhat integrated into his personality but the weight of death carries with him for a long time afterwards. We see multiple instances where he *has* to save people - the floor 74 boss, rushing to Sinon's house, pushing Asuna away when Johnny Black attacks him, saving Selka, etc. We see his trauma as he comes to terms with murdering people - he freaks out when he meets Death Gun and he flashes back to that time and kicks himself for forgetting about it. And now, after 2 years of bonding, watching his best friend, this neuroses of taking all of these heroics and carrying it on his shoulders cripples him. And while he would have been able to get past it by digging deeper into this neurosis, because he got shocked, he got stuck
     Changing the season name 
Meta question: Why go from using numbers (SAO II) to using an arc title for the season name? I get that the Alicization Arc is going to take a lot of episodes to adapt but why not just call it SAO III?
  • I think it's because this season is only adapting one arc while season 1 adapted 2 arcs and season 2 adapted 3 arcs.
     Project Alicization 
Meta question: If all Fluctlights were acknowledged as equal to humans due to possessing human souls, why it is Alice who is so very, very important to the point it became the Living MacGuffin for the second half of the "War of the Alicization" arc? First and foremost, those fluctlights are developed in such a way that they limit their thinking plus reasoning and just obidiently obey the rules (Taboo Index, which include disobey orders, kill people and such) at all cost. Now, since they are programmed as such, whenever someone would do something against the rules that were mentioned, they had this code 871, right eye seal, which works as a last safety measure or simply, a stop command which would prevent him/her from violating the rules. Alice just happened to be a fluclight that able to overcome that stop command or break the rules according to what she trust by nature. Just so you know, Kikuoka and his development team wants an AI that can act on his/her own reasoning for army purpose, meaning killing people and win the war. Surely they can programmed another Ai but they want to control alice before she can rebel against her creators

    Japan-USA diplomatic trouble 
  • Since Gabriel and Vassago were subjected to fates worse than death and their bodies stuck in eternal FullDive, wouldn't that provoke war or some level of action towards the JSDF and Kirito? Especially since one of them is the CTO of a prominent arms supplier? The argument can be made that Gabriel and his team were under non-official cover, but still, such a loss would have gained public attention. At the very least, shouldn't Kirito be in big trouble for his actions in Underworld, PTSD or no? Given that Seijirou is 'officially' dead, there's no one influential enough to protect him from the government or military, not even Asuna's father.
    • Who would he be in trouble with? The Japanese government, aka the people he just saved from an invasion by a foreign power? They'd be hailing him as a hero if anything (which, IIRC, is exactly what happened). He'd probably have the entire JSDF going to bat for him, with or without Kikuoka. As for America, they'd never be able to raise any sort of diplomatic stink about the incident without being forced to admit that they'd essentially invaded Japan without provocation by sending Gabriel and his people there to begin with. That'd be enough to cause a diplomatic incident regardless of any involvement on Kirito's part. Not to mention they probably didn't even know about Kirito since neither of the agents that knew about him made it out of the incident alive.
    • Sure the Glowgen force went incognito, but wouldn't it make the headlines that a senior executive of a prolific arms dealer disappeared or more likely, a cover story by the US government? If anything, this should develop into a conspiracy theory.
    • There is also the fact that Glowgen was hired by the NSA for it specifically because they were a deniable asset. If it didn't work, then the NSA could disavow any knowledge of what they were up to. Keep in mind, just because you know that the other guys did something, doesn't mean you can prove it, and a black op like this would require damning proof.

    If Quinella had escaped 
  • If Quinella had escaped into the real world, what would she have done? Especially tegarding her interactions with Yanai.
    • Consider how much power Yui possesses in the real world and Yui is a limited AI compared to Quinella who acts only to defend her family. A malicious AI who can break firewalls and is extremely effective at manipulation.... that's a little terrifying. All she needs is her partner to get her online and she can plant honey traps everywhere.

    Asuna's education opportunities 
  • It would seem to me that a reasonable government would treat the ALO survivors like students in the grade they were paused at - after all, the government assigned them to a special school to complete their education. It would seem to me that in a sane world, if you put "ALO Survivor" on your University application, aside from possible biases we see against veterans, the Universities should still treat you as an equal student. And then there's the fact that Asuna has a giant leadership bullet on her resume having been Vice Commander of the strongest guild which, crucially, was the driving group for ending SAO and whose membership includes the man who was successful in doing so. Obviously, these assumptions are all limited by the whims of individuals and their individual biases and maybe there's a cultural disconnect I'm missing and a mother terrified that The Plan has been shredded into confetti is far from a unique concept, but it feels like Asuna has a solid argument of why her future is no where near as in jeopardy as the Mother Rosario arc might suggest.
    • There are a few reasons that come to mind and they mostly have to do with Japanese society as a whole. Even if Asuna got perfect grades, the SAO Survivors' school might be seen as lesser or even illegitimate in the eyes of a university or a business. Also putting “SAO survivor” could just make things worse as it might lead people to ask if she ever killed someone in game, and whether or not they beleived her if she didn't.
    • Seems one powerful college essay in the US, but that's US-specific.

    GGO prize money seems really low 
  • So, the light novel gives the prize money for winning the Bullet of Bullets tournament as 3 mega-credits and conveniently mentions that equates to 30,000 yen. Which seems to come down to something like - 300 dollars? Or you get sent a toy gun depending on your placement and if you chose so. Just for comparison, when somebody sees Kirito's avatar when logging in they offer him more money than that, and pay-to-play gamers buy items at many times that amount. Playing competitively seems to be able to earn a frugal lifestyle - but winning the BoB seems in comparison to have mostly a reputation reward. Bragging rights on MMO Tomorrow and a small sum - seems like it doesn't match up with the popularity of eSports, though I know the novel has been written quite a while ago. It seems to be in no correlation to the amount of money people have in-game or are willing to spend on it.

Alternative Title(s): Sword Art Online The Movie Ordinal Scale