(First off, if you’re a fan of “Sword Art Online” and, in particular, the “Fairy Dance” arc, you should probably not read this…)
So, in my proud and illustrious tradition of always being the last person to ever know about anything when it comes to anime/manga, I only recently had the misfortune of starting to binge watch “Sword Art Online”. I wanted to stop early on, but…I had already paid (too much) for the DVDs so I figured I might as well at least watch it all once before selling it so it wasn’t a complete waste. I wasn’t completely sold on the “Aincrad” arc to begin with, but I kept hearing that what really ended up being the poison pill was the “Fairy Dance” arc that came after it. I figured it couldn’t possibly be that bad.
I was wrong. I tend to be pretty tame in what I pick to watch, so it was a bit unusual for me to see something so cringe-worthy I fast-forwarded past it.
Anyway, I also have a new favorite series on Youtube, “Pitch Meetings” from Screen Junkies, which is a hilarious little bit where a single writer/actor plays both a film executive and a screenwriter who act out hilarious pitches for existing films. And, as you can tell from my shameless ripoffs, I kind of have an affinity for imagining how those would go and no sooner had I finished
suffering through watching this arc than I began to imagine how it would work out if they ever actually did a Pitch Meeting of it. So…this is what I came up with.
(Er…on the off chance they ever actually do this, I’ll make sure to take this down…)
BTW, before reading this you should go search for “Pitch Meeting” on Youtube for a lot of hilarious fake movie pitches. It’ll also help you to get the tone and jokes of this better.
[Scene opens on the outside of an A-1 Pictures meeting room, then cuts to a smiling anime executive.]
EXECUTIVE: So I hear you got an idea for a new continuation arc for “Sword Art Online” to pitch me.
[Cut to an equally smiling screenwriter]
SCREENWRITER: Yes sir, I do!
EXECUTIVE: I imagine it’s going to be pretty hard because, you know, we kind of wrapped everything up after the Aincrad arc. Didn’t really leave much room to go anywhere. “Sword Art Online” shut down and everything.
SCREENWRITER: Well, to tell the truth I got rather stumped on where to go from there myself so I looked to the Internet.
EXECUTIVE: The Internet?
SCREENWRITER: Yeah, you see there’s a whole bunch of things out there called “fanfiction” which are more or less fans of the original “Sword Art Online” just writing what they would like to see happen next. So I just randomly looked at a bunch of them and put their ideas in my script.
SCREENWRITER: I figured why do the extra work when people had already done it for free?
EXECUTIVE: Awesome. So what do you got?
SCREENWRITER: Well, it turns out the company that put out “SAO” got bankrupt and broken up as a result of the whole, you know, main developer turning into Jigsaw and basically forcing 10,000 people to play a murder game for his amusement. But they sold most of their servers to a different company named RCT that started a new MMORPG called “ALfheim”.
EXECUTIVE: So I imagine because everything that happened in “SAO” was such a horrible incident that they’re going to have to make a completely different game.
SCREENWRITER: Actually no. It’s pretty much the exact same game only with magic, flying, and pointy ears. Oh, and you can die without “dying” now.
EXECUTIVE: Oh…but no one wants to play this game because it’s just like “SAO” though, right?
SCREENWRITER: No, everyone wants to play it.
EXECUTIVE: Wouldn’t Nervegears have been, like, outlawed following what happened with them the first time?
SCREENWRITER: Yes, but they put out a newer model that does the exact same things the Nervegears did only now it has better security features.
EXECUTIVE: (Blinking) But wasn’t the problem the first time nothing to do with security? It was the developer coded them to run his deathgame?
SCREENWRITER: Yeah, but…it’s more secure now.
EXECUTIVE: So all that’s changed is if you got stuck in this game now you’d be even more stuck than before?
SCREENWRITER: Kind of, but…it’s more secure so…everyone likes that.
SCREENWRITER: Anyway, it’s been two months since “SAO” went offline and so the player who had the avatar Kirito is adjusting back to normal life.
EXECUTIVE: I can imagine he’s still in terrible shape because he hasn’t used a single muscle in his entire body for two years.
SCREENWRITER: No, actually he’s in such good physical condition he can almost beat someone who’s an adept at kendo in a match.
EXECUTIVE: How does that work?
SCREENWRITER: Good rehab.
EXECUTIVE: Fair enough.
SCREENWRITER: Anyway, it turns out 300 players are still stuck in Nervegear comas and Asuna is one of them, so he visits her in the hospital every day. It also turns out that she’s the daughter of the CEO of RCT that bought the servers and is running the ALfheim game. And it turns out there’s a family friend who is also pretty high up in the company and managing the ALfheim game and the servers that are keeping Asuna alive.
EXECUTIVE: Whoa. That seems pretty convenient.
SCREENWRITER: (Smiling and nodding) It’s EXTREMELY convenient.
EXECUTIVE: So what happens?
SCREENWRITER: It turns out even though Asuna is in a vegetative state that he’s going to legally marry her and become the family heir.
EXECUTIVE: (Confused) He’s going to marry someone who’s in a vegetative state.
SCREENWRITER: Yeah, they’re actually going to dress her comatose body up in a wedding gown and everything.
EXECUTIVE: That sounds extremely morbid and extremely stupid.
SCREENWRITER: (Shrugs) It was in one of the fanfics I read.
EXECUTIVE: Is that even legal?
SCREENWRITER: Well, you see, this entire series happens in 2025 so it’s not reflecting modern society.
EXECUTIVE: And you think in about 10 years we’re going to reach the point where people are allowed to legally marry people who are comatose?
SCREENWRITER: I dunno…maybe?
EXECUTIVE: Alright then.
SCREENWRITER: Anyway, it turns out this guy is actually crazy and severely perverted. He’s going to fondle Asuna’s comatose body right in front of Kirito and grab her hair and smell it.
EXECUTIVE: Whoa! So I guess Kirito’s going to go right to her father and tell him this guy is seriously messed up and then he’s going to call the cops and the whole thing’s going to get broken off immediately?
SCREENWRITER: No, he’s going to go back to his room and cry about it.
EXECUTIVE: (Blinking) Why wouldn’t he go to the police?
SCREENWRITER: This is Japan we’re talking about. Owning child porn became illegal less than five years ago.
SCREENWRITER: Well then he’s going to get an email from one of the guys he knew in “SAO”, so he’s going to go down to his bar to meet up with him.
EXECUTIVE: Wait, wasn’t this guy stuck in a MMORPG for two years?
EXECUTIVE: And somehow he still owns a business?
SCREENWRITER: He did in the fanfic I read. Anyway, he shows him a picture that was taken from the “ALfheim” game that shows at the top of this massive World Tree which is at the end of the Grand Quest there’s a birdcage that looks like it has Asuna in it. As it turns out, the RCT corporation managed to reroute 300 of the players from “SAO” onto their servers they got from the game’s original company just as the game was ending. So now he has to go back into the game to save her.
EXECUTIVE: So I imagine this is going to be really rough on him since he’s probably psychologically scarred and afraid to use any Nervegear technology anymore.
SCREENWRITER: Actually, it’s super easy. Barely an inconvenience. In fact, he’ll use the same helmet he was stuck in for two years.
EXECUTIVE: He actually kept the helmet he was stuck in for two years? Isn’t that like someone who was chained and tortured for two years keeping their shackles?
SCREENWRITER: No, it’s not.
EXECUTIVE: Ok then. But if RCT could reroute players onto their own servers, why didn’t they use them to disconnect the players from “SAO” over the past two years?
SCREENWRITER: Well, you see as it turns out the pervy executive and a bunch of other pervy researchers are secretly using the players as test subjects to conduct experiments in being able to manipulate memories and emotions of players so that they can get the technology for mass control of entire populations, and they want to sell this technology to hostile governments and organizations.
EXECUTIVE: That’s pretty intense. So what do they end up doing with this terrible yet amazing technology during the story?
SCREENWRITER: Almost nothing.
SCREENWRITER: Yeah, the pervy executive will talk about using it once and boast that he can use it on anyone and that it makes him a god, but he’ll end up only using it to decrease one guy’s threshold for pain.
EXECUTIVE: Oh, the pervy executive plays a role?
SCREENWRITER: Oh yeah. As it turns out, he’s set himself up as the king of ALfheim and hacked himself to become the biggest and best player and he’s actually holding Asuna prisoner in the game.
EXECUTIVE: But since Asuna was one of the main characters in the Aincrad arc and she’s shown herself to be just as strong, resourceful, and full of self-pride as Kirito, I’m sure she’s going to get out of that. So what sort of things is she going to do in this arc?
SCREENWRITER: Get this…she’s going to sit around and cry for Kirito to come rescue her.
EXECUTIVE: (Blinking again) Excuse me?
SCREENWRITER: Yeah, there’s going to be one part where she manages to figure out the lock to her cage and get to a terminal to press a button that would log her out, but that’s going to fail because it will take her, like, 15 seconds to move her finger one centimeter. Then she goes back in the cage and throws an admin card through her bars, and…that’s pretty much it. The rest of the time she’s going to just be molested.
EXECUTIVE: Wait…what was that last part?
SCREENWRITER: (Wincing a little) Yeah…it…turns out a lot of those fanfictions weren’t appropriate for audiences under the age of 18.
EXECUTIVE: We’re taking one of the main characters of the series, the ones that all the female viewers idolized and cosplayed as, and we’re going to make her just a crying, helpless victim?
SCREENWRITER: Well…she’ll also get a nice new outfit.
EXECUTIVE: All this is only in a really small portion of the arc, right?
SCREENWRITER: Actually it’s going to happen continuously.
SCREENWRITER: Well, Asuna is one of the major characters so now it’s the only way to give her a lot of screen time, but I have lots of things to distract the audience from cringing.
EXECUTIVE: Oh! Like what?
SCREENWRITER: You know how one of the major problems of the original series was there was a lot of dialogue but not much action or battles?
EXECUTIVE: Oh! So you’re going to put in more battles?
SCREENWRITER: No, there’s going to be less and even more talking.
SCREENWRITER: More talking means more young adult romance and less money spent on animation.
EXECUTIVE: (Grinning) Gotcha.
SCREENWRITER: Also, Kirito and Asuna’s little adopted AI program thing is going to respawn as Navi, more-or-less.
EXECUTIVE: Oh, did lots of people want to see more of Kirito and Asuna’s little adopted AI program thing?
SCREENWRITER: (Shrugging) Hopefully. And one of the fanfics I read was a self-insert where the author put themselves in as Kirito’s younger sibling, only she’s not really his younger sibling because it turns out his parents died and he moved in with his aunt and uncle so they’re actually cousins, and therefore although they have a big brother, little sister relationship she actually has a crush on him.
EXECUTIVE: (Wincing) That kind of sounds like a cheap author’s-fantasy romance.
SCREENWRITER: Yeah, but I created a character like that anyway.
EXECUTIVE: Oh…well, at least she shouldn’t be that important to the plot, right?
SCREENWRITER: She’s on screen more than any other character and is the second-most important character in the entire plot.
EXECUTIVE: Hmm. So what all does she do in the story?
SCREENWRITER: Wish Kirito loved her instead of Asuna.
EXECUTIVE: And that’s it?
SCREENWRITER: That’s it.
EXECUTIVE: That would only take one or two episodes.
SCREENWRITER: Yeah, but somehow I managed to stretch it over twelve.
SCREENWRITER: And since you have to use magic in “ALfheim”, Kirito’s going to have to learn what type of magic he’s good at and master it.
EXECUTIVE: That’s new and creative. Starting him off on the same level as everyone else and has to learn a new skill. So how will his magic figure into things?
SCREENWRITER: He’ll use it twice and then never again.
SCREENWRITER: Also, there’s a cat girl.
EXECUTIVE: Awesome. Cat girls are TIGHT.
SCREENWRITER: And the cousin has a classmate friend who’s going to cast this self-destruction spell that has a massive penalty so that he can clear a path for Kirito to get to Asuna.
EXECUTIVE: Oh, so he’s going to make a noble sacrifice to get the two reunited?
SCREENWRITER: No, it’s going to fail. Kirito won’t be able to get through and the opening will close up again, and two minutes later a whole army of players will show up and clear the path again instead.
EXECUTIVE: So this character sacrifices himself for absolutely nothing.
SCREENWRITER: Pretty much.
EXECUTIVE: And will any of the other characters respect him or acknowledge him for this?
SCREENWRITER: Nope. They’ll pretty much forget it even happened right after it happens.
EXECUTIVE: Oh. Well, sucks to be that guy, I guess. So how does it end?
SCREENWRITER: Kirito is going to become the One.
EXECUTIVE: I don’t follow.
SCREENWRITER: Well, he’s just a player while the pervy executive is a system admin, so the pervy executive just pins him down and gets ready to rape Asuna right in front of him while simultaneously torturing him to death while he can’t move. Then the game’s original developer is going to appear before him kind of like how Odin appears to Thor in “Thor: Ragnarok”. And…Kirito is just going to get up and depower the pervy executive to “n00b status”.
EXECUTIVE: He can do that?
SCREENWRITER: (Shrugging again) Apparently, because that’s how he beat “SAO”. He just kind of stopped having any of the rules of the plot apply to him once they got inconvenient.
EXECUTIVE: Yeah, but I think this time we should give an actual reason, because otherwise…you know…conflict is meaningless.
SCREENWRITER: Fair enough. How about we have him just suddenly log-in under the name of “Heathcliff”, which was the developer’s avatar, which gives him full control of the system?
EXECUTIVE: Let me get this straight–he can control completely how the game works by simply saying he’s logging in as the name Heathcliff?
EXECUTIVE: And he doesn’t need a password or anything?
EXECUTIVE: That system is extremely insecure. Basically anyone could hack it. And this system is supposed to be “more secure”.
SCREENWRITER: Well, at this point, the audience is going to be so uncomfortable watching what’s happening on screen they won’t really care how Kirito stops the bad guy just so long as he does it.
EXECUTIVE: So now that he’s up and free, I’m guessing he’s going to free Asuna so that she can deliver the final blows herself to show off she’s not some weak caged bird to be used as a doll, right?
SCREENWRITER: No, she’s just going to hang there and watch Kirito do it, then say some cliche stuff like “I knew you’d come for me”.
EXECUTIVE: Wow. This is not going to have many female viewers. How does it end?
SCREENWRITER: Well, everyone goes back to the real world, and the MMORPG industry takes a major nosedive for obvious reasons. Everyone cancels development and it looks like that’s the end of those types of games.
EXECUTIVE: Well, I would imagine so.
SCREENWRITER: But Kirito saves it.
EXECUTIVE: Why would he want to save it?
SCREENWRITER: Basically, he and everyone else who was stuck in “SAO” now has massive Stockholm Syndrome and they can no longer fully function in normal society. They all now literally think that their lives in that game were equivalent to their real world lives and were just as important and so they have to keep playing MMORPGs.
EXECUTIVE: That’s pretty dark. So they all need to get massive psychological help for this dependency?
SCREENWRITER: No, they all go back to playing MMORPGs using Nervegear.
EXECUTIVE: …Which is still not illegal for some reason?
SCREENWRITER: (Smiling and nodding) Which is still not illegal for some reason. And now, Kirito has mass deployed a bit of freeware called the World Seed which allows pretty much anyone in the world with a major server to create their own independent and fully integrated version of “SAO” so that now everyone can play their own version of “SAO” and freely interact with everyone else’s world.
EXECUTIVE: Wow. That’s amazing.
SCREENWRITER: Yeah, there’s going to be literally thousands of worlds at the end of the series.
EXECUTIVE: That’s incredible. How does the industry not collapse?
SCREENWRITER: (Blinking himself) Excuse me?
EXECUTIVE: Yeah, what you just described would destroy the MMORPG industry far more easily than the deathgame incident. Basically everyone would have their own capability to create their own independent SAO game but they’d still need to hire developers, run regular server maintenance, provide patches and new versions, etc., and they wouldn’t be able to because the market would be so over-saturated that no one would be able to generate any money off of the game. It’s the same reason the big Video Game Collapse happened in the 80s. Everyone was producing the same games that the Atari 2600 was producing. How does that not happen here?
SCREENWRITER: (Long pause) …Did I mention Asuna gets caught by slimy tentacles at one point?
SCREENWRITER: So, what do you think?
EXECUTIVE: Well, I honestly have my doubts. This sounds like we could run the risk of alienating a whole lot of people with this one.
SCREENWRITER: Hey, if fanfiction writers indulge this stuff, why not us? We’re just cutting out the middleman.
EXECUTIVE: I guess you’re right. Besides, all anyone really cares about is the Kirito/Asuna romance. So long as we have that and be all about true love, it’ll be fine, right?
[Cut to shot of countless posts, threads, and videos arguing about how controversial SAO is and why it’s obsessed with sexual content]