Wish Fulfillment: What I Hoped Sword Art Online Could Be

I swore off blogging Sword Art Online after episode 15, the point when I realized that even trying to talk about it would be little more than an exercise in frustration, pain, and many wasted hours. The show’s skillful and deliberate evasion of any semblance of the quality it set itself up to achieve has always been a fascinating subject to me, but my disdain for it runs so deep that to attempt to even scratch the surface would be an endeavor whose required investment of time and sanity far outweighs any reward gleaned from doing so. In my swiftly-abandoned “SAO Bug Tracker” post series, I did attempt to take the opposite approach and search for the ways the show could have been good, but the scope of the project exceeded the span of my goodwill for the show. Now that a DVD/BD release for the show, as well as a slot on Toonami, have been announced for SAO, it is once again a relevant topic to discuss, and I think enough time has passed that my sanity regarding the show has returned to safer levels, so I figure now is as good a time as any to post this.

An Introduction to the Fanfiction:

You read that right. A fanfiction. Digging through some old files of mine, I have managed to scrounge up an outline I wrote back when SAO had just finished airing, detailing an alternate plot for the show that was more in line with what I had hoped it would be. A couple of fellow bloggers were interested in what I had had to say and requested I post it, so I decided “why not?” And what better way to introduce it than with a typical fanfiction-author-esque apologetic “I KNOW IT SUCKS OKAY” paragraph?

This outline was all conceived of and written in an afternoon back in December. It’s incomplete, and I have long since forgotten where I was going with it, so I haven’t really bothered to touch up or finish it. Some of it isn’t as well thought-out as it could be and potentially pretty cliche, but I think it gets across my main point well enough. Basically, it was meant to be a replacement for my Bug Tracker posts by providing a specific example of how the show could have been done better, rather than just talking about it. In that afternoon, I managed a pretty detailed summary of a revised first three episodes, and described a number of plot points, setpieces, characters, and character interactions that I felt could’ve been utilized by the show to explore more interesting ground than it did. I hope you’ll enjoy it and get something out of it, despite its flaws. Now, without further ado… (*copies* *pastes*)

The Fanfiction:

For starters, the second arc is basically irredeemable, and the first arc felt like it was cut too short to explore everything it set out to, so all 24-25 episodes are to be dedicated to the first arc.

First episode:
I think it’d be nice to establish the real world to start, with a short half-episode intro that isn’t in the actual show. Kirito is playing some VR game, in the middle of a solo battle, when suddenly he’s jolted back into reality by his mom removing the Nervegear and telling him to stop playing – it’s time to go see his sister’s kendo tournament. She tells him that he needs to go out and get some real friends and stop spending so much time playing games because he’s missing out on the real life that he already has. It’s like he lives in a whole different world, she says. Kirito complains about getting pulled out of the game and how she and his sister don’t understand that online gaming is about playing /with/ people who are depending on you (despite the fact that he was soloing the game). He’s a high schooler now, he can do what he wants, and why does he have to go to his sister’s kendo tournament anyway? It had better not make him late for the big launch of Sword Art Online. He sits through it bored, watching the kendo matches and envisioning the combatants as MMO characters. His sister makes it pretty far into the tournament, and the launch time is getting close, so Kirito gets up to leave for the game store. His sister notices that he’s not there during her next match, and she gets distracted and loses. Kirito walks to the store himself and waits in line to buy the game. When he gets back home to play it, he gets chewed out for being inconsiderate of his sister and for putting his games before even his own family. Games are all he thinks about! His sister is slumped on the couch watching TV, upset over what happened. Kirito ignores both of them and goes up to his room to try out the game. Then we get a commercial break. The second half of the episode plays out much like the first half of the actual first episode, with the exception that, on the way to practice with Klein, they see another newbie player get killed by a low-level monster and they chuckle at how bad he is. The episode ends with the bell ringing to announce the intro sequence, just as they’ve discovered that there’s no logout.

Second episode:
The second episode plays out much like the second half of the first episode, with again a few exceptions. Of course, the purpose of the previous added scene was to help demonstrate the reality of in-game death, as Kirito and Klein look at each other in a crap-their-pants moment of “that guy actually died” when they find out about the Nervegear brain-frying. We also cut to the real world at the point where Kayaba had shown the news reports in the real episode 1. We see flashes of the news reports as if we were watching them, showing distraught families in the hospital with their sons who have been fried from pulling off the Nervegear (and maybe the family of the guy that Klein and Kirito saw), a confirmation that officials and experts are working on apprehending Kayaba and finding a way to reverse-engineer the Nervegear, respectively. The Nervegear has also been recalled, for anyone not playing SAO or who bought the game but didn’t start playing yet (these people are advised not to play, of course). Enough to showcase how serious of a situation this is, and that steps are being taken to rectify it. From there, we show that Kirito’s sister is watching the news and recognizes the game. She sees the warning to not-remove the Nervegear, and races upstairs upon hearing that their mom is heading up to call Kirito to dinner. The commercial break happens as we see Kirito’s mom getting ready to take off the Nervegear, like she did in episode 1, with his sister racing to stop her. After the break, she succeeds in saving Kirito and shows their mom the news. The news gives them instructions not to disturb the players, and to call their local hospital if someone in their household is stuck in the game. Kirito’s mom can maybe comment on the connection between this and how Kirito always used to spend so much time in his games, but now he /really/ can’t stop playing. I could probably think of some more stuff for them to do, too, but I won’t dwell on it too much – the point is that we can see Kirito’s family reacting to his being stuck in the game. We then cut back to the game world, and Kayaba finishes his speech. The rest of the episode is like the end of episode 1.

Third episode:
This is pretty much just episode two of the real series, where they establish the concept of a “beater” (beta-testing cheater) except for the ending. Here, when the party jeers Kirito for being a beater, he starts to storm off, as he did, but now Klein runs up to catch him and convince him to make a party. This inspires Kirito to turn around and announce that yes, he is a beater. He is going to beat this game and get out of here. And if anyone else wants to beat the game, they know where to find him. (Because really, Kirito’s lone-wolf attitude kinda killed a lot of the show)

Now the rest of it I don’t have as well planned-out, since I kinda feel like the entire story from episode 3 onward should probably be tossed so I don’t have the actual episodes to use as a crutch.

Kirito’s Party:
Klein joins him right away, as I mentioned above. He is basically the same as he is in the original story, because he was easily the best character already.

Asuna is seen looking around for a guild, but because she’s a “girl gamer” everyone either creepily hits on her because she’s hott or dismisses her because she’s a girl and must suck. She joins Kirito’s party (and gains respect for Kirito) because he sees her getting hit-on/shunned and decides to let her into his party after seeing her in action during episode 3 (episode 2 of the real series). Throughout the series, things like that continue to happen, and she fights against the “girl gamer” stereotype by being the competent version of herself that we saw earlier on in the original series.

Sachi can be there, I suppose, but she’s a part of Kirito’s party. And perhaps not a loli, but that’s not all that important. What is important is that she actually gets screentime before she gets killed, so she’s a persistent character who gets developed somewhat thoughout the world-building/character-building episodes following the formation of the party (which take the place of the side story episodes). For added impact, we can see her family in the real world – she could be in the room next to Kirito’s at the hospital, and her and Kirito’s families meet and talk about the predicament they’re in, and if there are any developments on the situation, and talk to each other about the loved ones they have lost to the game and wonder how they’re doing.

A new character, an adult, also joins their party. He’s actually a member of the government, and during his introductory episode, there is some real-world media hubbub about his being trapped in a game. He had been a pro-VR member of the government – one of its biggest proponents, and his opponents are trying to use this incident to ban VR games like the Nervegear and SAO. Being trapped in the game like this, he begins to wonder if maybe his opponents are right, but for now, all he wants is to beat the game so he can see how his colleagues are responding to this without his leading pro-VR voice. So he teams up with Kirito, who, despite being just a kid, was a beta tester and seems to have the best chance of beating the game. Here we have not only a new plot thread about the ethics of banning media, but also a look at the reversal of authority that a video game world can introduce.

I’m not sure if these characters should be members of Kirito’s party or if they should be off on their own, but I love the guys from episode one who turned out to not, in fact, be a girl and a seventeen-year-old. They can be the comic relief lovable goofballs of the story, and they’re pretty incompetent but manage to bring about important plot changes and get themselves (and Kirito’s party) into and out of dangerous situations completely by accident. I don’t want the story to be too dark and gloomy! And they provide an alternate, more believable vehicle for events the original would have resolved with deus ex machinas.

In the real world:
We of course have Kirito’s family. Of them, Kirito’s mom will probably be the one to interact with Sachi’s family, and we’ll see his sister working on her kendo to prove to herself that she doesn’t need Kirito’s support and she can move on with her life without him. Kendo is at the same time her way of coping with his loss and relating to his being trapped in a video game about swordfighting. There needs to be at least one (maybe two) episode(s) of Kirito’s party grinding to level up, and this would be a good place to interweave the start of this kendo subplot, which would progress along with the SAO story culminating with Suguha winning a big match as Kirito and his party defeat the final boss.

There are also government-guy’s fellow governing members, and they’ll be key in the aforementioned subplot about the ban on gaming. Ultimately, government-guy is freed from the game by way of having a malfunctioning Nervegear which fails to zap him when he dies (obviously this will have been foreshadowed earlier, it can’t just come out of nowhere). And he and his opponents go back and forth about what would be a suitable legislative reaction to the incident. In the end, this plot thread is resolved by government-guy convincing enough fellow policymakers that recall and regulation of the hardware is enough, and that the banning of video games as a whole is not the solution. But along the way, we can have a good deal of political back-and-forth, intrigue, etc. about the seperation of games and reality, and some soul-searching on the part of government-guy with regards to what he really believes is the best course of action after having been trapped in a game himself (which makes his coming out against the ban that much more meaningful). Perhaps this story can be foreshadowed during the newsflashes in episode 2. Government-guy can also meet with Kirito’s family and tell them that he’s all right and tell them about his heroic exploits/leadership/taking charge in the game.

Then we have the police/UN/etc. trying to catch Kayaba, and the hackers/devolopers working to reverse-engineer the Nervegear to disable the brain-frying feature. They are mostly there to show that something is being done about this in the real world. There is one pivotal moment where the police find Kayaba’s offices by way of one of fishing-guy’s friends in the game security department, but Kayaba’s computer is on and Kayaba himself is found dead at the desk, Nervegear on his head (he has, of course, transferred his consciousness into the game by this point). Government guy can also work with the police and give them an update on what has happened so far in the game.

An Outro From the Fanfiction:

And that’s as far as I got. Now of course, all this still has the potential to be a massive trainwreck if it’s not done properly. The entire premise of SAO lends itself very much to cheesiness and making things too over-the-top. I am by no means a great storyteller, and having thought of all this in an afternoon, I admit that a lot of it is pretty hamfisted. Even so, I like to think it’d still be better than what we ultimately got. My point with this is less to come up with an actual plot alternative to SAO, and more to demonstrate that it COULD HAVE covered a lot of interesting ground and examined some relevant, relatively unique themes if it hadn’t tossed its entire setting out the window in favor of Kirito deus-ex-machina-ing his way to being the most stupidly broken character, and the laughably handled relationship between him and Asuna and every other female character in the series.

You can see why I call SAO such a fatal timesink for my writing; I can’t shut myself up about it, and only get less and less coherent as I talk more and more about it and get angrier and angrier about it in the process.

Take a Deep Breath, Satchii. It’s Over Now:

Phew. Okay. Now that that’s done, I think it’s time to once more swear off writing about SAO before I get too angry at it again. This whole post has felt really out of character for me.

About BokuSatchii

Yoroshiku ne!
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15 Responses to Wish Fulfillment: What I Hoped Sword Art Online Could Be

  1. Click says:

    Even though I had far less problems with the first half (when you factor out the sidestories and cop out ending, anyway), this is already far more interesting and more focused than the actual series itself. I’ve always thought that the real world element was one of the major points of interest untouched by the series and when it was tapped into, it was either used a cheap means for exposition/plot progression with some parts such as dying that quickly on life support being wholly inaccurate or just, well, not very interesting at all. I understand why Kawahara did it since he wanted the readers to appreciate Aincrad for what it was much like Kayaba, but all the real world intrigue and open questions leave too much to be desired.

    So yeah! I hardly like getting caught up in potential, but a story has to at least commit the promises that it makes, and SAO either chucks them or, arguably much worse, contradicts the ideas in sloppily written additions to the story (some side stories and, more noticeably, the whole second arc). But when it all comes down to it, I’d really just like some vulnerable, genuinely human characters that I can relate to.

    • BokuSatchii says:

      Oh yeah. Like I mentioned (and as we both well know), the second half was pretty irredeemable, but the first half was only a moderate disappointment that failed to live up to its potential. There were just so many places it could’ve gone but didn’t – the real world being the biggest one – and that was the big motivation I had that inspired me to write this back in December. For the first half, I can at least kind of understand the direction he took the story, even if it meant that all the interesting things I actually wanted to see ended up being little more than a cruel tease. Doesn’t mean I have to like it, though. It’s kinda funny that some of the much-maligned side stories ended up being better than the actual plot, now that I think about it.

      I’m with you on that whole second paragraph. I think that, when it boils down to it, my biggest problem with the first arc was the fact that it made all those promises in the first place. It never had any desire to keep them, and if it hadn’t made them, it would’ve just been a dull, average story rather than the frustrating tease that it was. And what ended up being there wouldn’t have had to be ignorant or contradictory of those promises if they had never been made.

      You mean Kirito wasn’t vulnerable and genuinely human enough for you? :p

  2. froggykun says:

    This is really interesting, actually! I can relate entirely to how you are feeling. I feel like almost every conversation I have with someone about SAO usually boils down to: “If I were writing the story, how would I do it differently?”

    And a lot of common things pop up in these sorts of conversations. We want to see more exploration of the RPG aspect of the series – and I see you addressed this too by your desire to implement a party in the story. The camaraderie between fellow gamers is what MMORPGs are all about, right?

    Then there’s the parallel between the real world and the virtual world. To what degree is the virtual world some kind of escapism and to what degree can we actually learn and take something away from that experience? I really, really liked your idea of including Suguha’s character development alongside that of Kirito and co.’s. Yeah, I agree with you that your story has the potential to be pretty hamfisted with the morals, but there’s real potential in the idea.

    It’s almost scary how close your fanfic idea is to mine and some of the others my friends have come up with… the only difference between you and me is that I actually sat down, wrote and completed the story for NaNoWriMo last year. Reading your post made me really nostalgic. I agree that SAO had a lot of potential. Thinking about these alternate plotlines no longer makes me frustrated but instead makes me regard SAO with a kind of fondness. The SAO we come up with in our heads is always better than the actual product. I think even the fans would agree with that – that the fun of the series is imagining what YOU would do in Kirito’s place. And so I think, just from its setup, it could never really have lived up to its potential.

    Sure, the writing was shoddy, but the fact that SAO appealed to yours and my imagination like this makes me think that maybe there was something in it after all, no matter how disappointing the experience turned out to be. Yeah.

    I hope you finish your fanfic, or at least your outline of it. I’d really be interested in reading that.

    • BokuSatchii says:

      Yep! Yep! That’s it! That’s what I noticed, too. Every time I was thinking about SAO, it was all about “Man, this could’ve been so much better. What could it have done differently?” And so I decided to actually write down some things that it could have done better, and that was the source for my Bug Tracker posts as well as this “fanfiction”.

      The desire to see more of the RPG side of the series was another of my most prominent complaints. There was nothing “video game”-y about it besides some menus and jargon. It was otherwise just your typical fantasy world – it didn’t really capture the spirit of what gaming is all about, or even really try to integrate the mechanics of gaming into the world all that well, and that’s something I had been looking forward to about the show.

      Really, it’s that idea of parallelism between the real and game worlds that I was shooting for. How I did it wasn’t as important to me in a rough outline like this, but I wanted to get across the concept of comparison of these two worlds, and how they’re similar and how they’re different. I believe some of my unwritten sections of this plot were going to go into the subject of productive and unproductive escapism, and the way that Kirito feels more at home in the game world than the real world. And also drawing comparisons between progress in the game and progress in the real world, and perhaps a realization by Kirito that he could be trapped in this game forever or something to serve as a reminder of the dangers of excess in one’s escape.

      Oh wow, you actually finished one? I’m impressed! Congrats on that, and glad I could help you relive it. Have you posted it (or a summary of it) anywhere, or was it more of a personal project? I’d be interested to see some of the ideas you and your friends came up with, and how they stack up with my own. Either way, it’s pretty great that you actually brought that idea into something substantial. That December afternoon started with me sitting down planning an outline with the intent to actually start writing this myself, but after getting as far as I did, I ultimately decided that I would rather dedicate my time to enjoying more of what anime has to offer rather than dwelling on SAO (by which I mostly mean the new episode of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure had come out). I think I have explored enough of what I wanted from SAO to be to my satisfaction, and for this reason, I don’t see myself returning to this outline to develop it any further, though I do honestly appreciate the sentiment.

      I do have to give the show props, though, as you said. It was a really, really flawed show, but for half its length, it was flawed in just the right magical way that sparked my creative side and desire to improve it. It made me WANT to see it succeed, even as it came crashing so spectacularly around itself. As much as I strongly dislike SAO (and I strongly dislike it), I can’t help but respect it for that. And for the actually legitimately good first episode, which is where I think most of this feeling came from. And then there was the second arc, which provided some spectacular terribad fodder for the weekly watch group I joined partway through.

      Thanks for your comment. It’s great to know that I’m not alone in having had the urge to make a “better SAO”, that there’s someone else out there who reached out for that sliver of hope and imagination swimming in the sea of disappointment.

      • froggykun says:

        Oh, no, thank you for writing this post and responding to my comment! And yeah, I agree with you about SAO’s second half… completely irredeemable. I’m sorry about you not being able to finish writing your outline, but I think just talking about it is pretty fun and you end up getting a lot out of it.

        As for my fanfiction, I posted it up on Fanfiction.net, where it became surprisingly popular: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/8665240/1/Double-edged-Sword

        Since it’s only 50,000 words or so, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours to read. I’m a veteran fanfic author (been at it for seven years) so I can at least vouch for the quality of my grammar. The plot doesn’t diverge right from the beginning like your idea; instead it picks up after Kirito reveals his Dual Blades, which, in my story, leads to him getting into some serious trouble with other players. Then it’s up to Asuna to help him out and, fed up with her own guild, she forms a party with Klein and Agil (the black guy). I would describe it as a more feminist take on SAO with a lot more focus on the supporting characters.

        As for my friends, they haven’t written any stories themselves, but they more or less agreed with most of the ideas I had. In my head, I’ve always imagined Kirito as “that Asian kid” who is great at games. I’m not sure if anyone else gets that impression of him. That’s the big beef some of my readers had with my story – that he wasn’t “cool” enough. But honestly, I think a lot of my problems with SAO stemmed from Kirito’s characterisation and how the whole world seemed to revolve around him. It was like he had Chuunibyou, except not in the funny way.

      • BokuSatchii says:

        Oh definitely. I don’t really feel like diving back into the actual plot that I started, but just talking about this sort of thing and getting the thoughts out there is where I’ve gotten the most value out of the series anyway, as well as the reason behind this post in the first place.

        I’ll have to check that fic out then. Good to know I won’t have to worry about the grammatical quality, at least! “More Feminist” (which I read as “no more damsel in distress Asuna, lots more competent Asuna”) and “more focus on the supporting characters” sounds like enough to sell me.

        Haha, one of my beefs with SAO was that it put way too much of its effort into trying to make Kirito “cool”er, placing the power fantasy over the story’s greater goods. And making Kirito, you know, human.

  3. Pingback: Falling in Love with Flawed Anime | Fantastic Memes

  4. nolan says:

    I loved sword art online, but your right it could of been better, but so could a lot of other anime episodes

    • BokuSatchii says:

      I agree that a lot of other anime could have been better. Though what made SAO stand out for me was that it actually inspired me to try to think of specific ways it could have been improved, something that doesn’t often happen when I’m watching a show I don’t care for.

  5. Buck Wade says:

    the writer didn’t know what they wanted the show to be. A tragic action story about people fighting for their lives while being trapped in an rpg? A story about an almost gary sue who gets a harem?

    • BokuSatchii says:

      How about an action story about a Gary Stu who gets a harem while trapped in an RPG fighting for his life?

      I’m definitely with you on the show’s lack of focus. SAO put forth so many cool themes and ideas only to completely handwave them all away in favor of the adolescent male power fantasy of Kirito swinging his sword around and getting all the girls. I mean, I can see where it comes from – the original story WAS written when Kawahara was in his teens. And it’s not like I’m inherently against adolescent male power fantasies or anything – I watch giant robot shows for crying out loud. What gets me is the unfortunate narrative de-evolution of opening up every plotline with an interesting theme or question and then resolving it not by answering the question but by giving Kirito an arbitrary powerup that renders the whole dilemma moot by brute force.

      Let’s all get ready to board the rage train for season 2 this summer!

  6. It is truly painful seeing people claim on the internet that “SAO is the best anime ever” when clearly there are much better choices. Being a gateway series for new fans of the medium and a show that creates the quintessential wish-fulfillment setting for most real life gamers, I can understand why it has gathered such a massive amount of popularity. But as with most things in life, “popular does not equal good”.
    Setting SAO as the highest standard for anime quality is disgraceful, considering we have series like Ghost in the Shell: SAC or Fate/Zero.

    Being honest, your rendition of the story is far more interesting than the original and reboot (SAO: Progressive). I feel the “government-agent-getting-trapped stuff” could be improved, but the idea itself isn’t bad. With the announcement of the second season and the rumors that it will be better than the first one, I hope you regain your interest on the show. I would absolutely love to read a review from you when it comes out, and maybe a complete version of your retelling.

    Have a nice day.

    • BokuSatchii says:

      When I see someone who claims SAO as the “best anime ever”, the first thing that tends to come to my mind is “how few anime must this person have seen to think this?” There are so many shows out there that are so much better in so many ways than SAO that I cannot imagine any serious anime fan who has not found a show they think is better (though for some perspective, while it’s certainly better than SAO, I quite frankly have a similar response to the suggestion of even Fate/Zero in a discussion of “the highest standard of anime quality”).

      As quick as I may be to mentally judge an SAO fan, though, I’m trying to back myself away from the “this is a disgrace to anime fandom” mindset. I’m starting to view huge hits like SAO and Attack on Titan as a sign that the medium is seeing a surge of more mainstream acceptance outside the small niche it previously occupied. There are two sides to this. On the one hand, you have a larger sheer volume of people who identify as anime fans and are willing to go out and watch anime after seeing one that has directly appealed to them, which is great! But on the other hand, that core group of dedicated anime fans, while increasing in numbers more quickly than before, become a smaller percentage of the makeup of the anime fandom at large, as many of those now self-identifying as anime fans are content with having seen SAO, and don’t dedicate as much time to finding more, better anime as they do to their other hobbies, such as gaming. The same works in reverse – I spend most of my free time watching, researching, and thinking about anime, so I don’t put much (read “any”) time into gaming and refining my taste in video games. Far from disgrace, this is common to just about every field, and is essentially the definition of that “going mainstream” thing that exclusivity-loving nerds hate so much. So while I think SAO is pretty bad and have a good laugh to myself at any claim that it’s the best anime ever, I also see the increase in fans of such an accessible entry-level show as a sign that anime is getting more entry-level fans, i.e. that more people are getting into anime. It’s no Cowboy Bebop or Evangelion as far as entry-level shows go, but hey, I’ll take it.

      This is the first time I’ve heard of SAO Progressive, actually. Looking at the concept behind it, I must say that while it certainly would’ve been nice to see more detail about the different levels of the game, the fact that we did not get to see how the characters beat each individual floor was FAR from the biggest problem the show had.

      Glad you liked my take on the story. Like I said, it’s a little rough (the politician subplot was something I kinda threw in on a whim as I was trying to think of real-world gaming-related issues and didn’t get very far in thinking about), as it was more a proof of concept to demonstrate the untapped potential I saw in SAO’s setup than any kind of fleshed-out story that I actually intended to write. So the complete version of the story’s probably something that’s not going to happen – I actually had no intention of even posting this outline until a few of my fellow bloggers started asking to see it. I’m glad I did at least this much, though, as this outline was more about the idea than the story itself anyway, and it’s prompted some good discussion about the show.

      I’m planning to at least TRY watching season 2 this summer. No promises on how far I’ll get into it before I get sick of it, but it’s not like it can be much worse than the Fairy arc, right? :)

  7. Draco Murdock says:

    Question… How would you feel about me actually writing a fanfiction that is just this? I could even implement the commercial break ideas with the time gap of changing chapters.

    • BokuSatchii says:

      This is a complicated question to answer, so I’m going to ramble a bit; hopefully this all makes sense.

      I’m glad that my post has inspired you! It was a very personal exploration of what the show (could have) meant to me, and it’s great to see that it’s reached out to something within other people as well. Because it’s such a personal thing, though, I feel a little uncomfortable with giving the explicit go ahead – especially to someone I don’t really know – to utilize it wholesale, even though I have no intention of fully fleshing it out myself. If you’re asking for my endorsement or permission, then my answer is no, I do not want you to write “BokuSatchii’s SAO Fanfiction”.

      However, that’s only in reference to “writing a fanfiction that is just this”. What would be TOTALLY fine, and what I’d even encourage if my story inspired you, is to change it, improve it, take some of the ideas you like (whether it’s the parallelism with the real world, or the increased role of RPG party dynamics, or the comic relief characters, or a certain scene/line of dialogue that really spoke to you, or even the politician dude that I kinda regret adding), and incorporate them into your own vision of what SAO could have been. Ultimately, don’t try to make my story. As you write your story, you shouldn’t feel the need to refer to my outline as a guide. When you’ve written it, it should be “yours” enough that you shouldn’t feel the need to credit me for it. What you write should be your vision of what you would want SAO to look like. If some part of what I wrote was meaningful enough to you that it had an impact on your vision, then use it within that context – what’s important is that it should be the thing that you want to write. If it’s not – if what you’re writing is simply my story – then the work would not be able to truly do justice to either my original outline or your own ideas. It’s the same attitude that leads to mediocre Hollywood remakes/reboots of old or foreign properties, and I don’t think either of us would want that :)

      To summarize, I will not officially sanction the creation of this specific fanfiction, but if you want to make an SAO fanfic that draws inspiration from it, I won’t object as long as it’s your own take on the ideas, and it’s not claiming to be my story.

      Best of luck with your writing!

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