Sword Art Online’s latest arc has Kirito grouping with his sister/cousin in the new MMO by chance. Suguha has agreed to help Kirito with his quest, but the interesting aspect of this arc is that neither of them realizes that their new online friend is actually someone they know very well in real life.
I’ve heard a lot of complaints that the two of them should’ve recognized each other by now, but I’m inclined to disagree. This is no longer the game Sword Art Online, where in-game avatars take the appearance of what a person looks like in real life. Despite Kirito’s obsession with the color black, there is little by which Suguha should be able recognize him by in his in-game avatar.
As viewers we are somewhat omniscient. We see several story threads going on simultaneously and are therefore privy to more information than the characters on screen. Seeing Kirito and Suguha both in the real-world and in-game allows us to make certain connections that the characters cannot. Even before Leafa was revealed as Suguha it was obvious who she was. Partially because the new OP made it so blatantly obvious, but also because of Suguha’s sudden importance in this new arc.
This leads me to question whether or not it would be more exciting if Sword Art Online had not made it obvious that Suguha was Leafa. Imagine if Suguha barely featured in the real-world? Imagine if the show had not told viewers Leafa’s real identity? How might it be different if the story was solely from Kirito’s perspective? I must say that I’m intrigued by the prospects, but I really wish they’d do away with the stupid imouto “crush.”
The idea of telling the story entirely in Kirito’s perspective, and not making the identities blatantly obvious to the viewers, may be interesting and could certainly lead to a rather spectacular twist later on, but it would in no way actually work. Suguha, or Lyfa as she is called in-game, both behaves and looks differently as a fairy, this is correct. But there is one huge flaw: she sounds exactly the same as in real life.
Unless they gave the character Lyfa a different voice, it would just fall flat if they went with the mysterious approach. This is also why I believe our current situation is just as bad. Why does not Kirito recognize his own sister’s voice? How can he not know that she plays Alfheim Online? I mean, it cannot be easy to hide it. If she does not respond to, say, a question, Kirito might simply walk into her room and then see her play the game.
However, right now I am only speaking from Kirito’s perspective. If we instead look through the eyes of Suguha it becomes even worse. First of all, we once again have the voice problem. Secondly, as I brought up last week, is that Kirito looks nearly identical to his real-life appearance. If anything, this should at least make Suguha question whom she plays with.
To make it even less believable, we have to somehow accept that Kirito completely managed to keep his in-game name in SAO a secret all this time. Was he not a hero for saving everyone? Maybe he was not after all. But how does mister evil villain Sugou know about Kirito, then? Because he had access to the game servers? I have no clue.
And let us not bring up how Kirito has a time-limit before Asuna is married off to Sugou. When Kirito went on about having a limited time to reach the World Tree, the only possible reason Suguha did not realize it was her brother she played with would be if he had not even told her about Asuna’s situation.
Even if we accept that the characters are dumb, there is no way in hell they would at least not question the other player. Or, hey, notice that the other person is always in its room not answering.
Myst: You make a good point about the voices with regards to the viewer’s perception of the characters. Even if Leafa’s identity was hidden, viewers would probably be able to recognize her anyway from her voice actress.
However, that is from the viewer’s perspective only. From the character’s perspective there is no reason that they should be able to recognize each other by voice because the story hasn’t given any indication that their voices would sound the same once they stepped in-game. It’s more likely that Kirito and Suguha’s voices are completely unrecognizable from their real voices because in-game it is all digitally generated.
Unless, of course, the light novels actually say that their voices are the same in-game and out and in which case I will completely agree with you.
As for Kirito’s in-game look, I think it is pretty much the same thing. We see it as almost identical, but that just points to the limitations of the show’s animation. Kirito’s in-game digital form could look different enough. I expect that one or both of them will become suspicious soon, but I disagree about immediately.
With regards to Kirito’s name, I can only speculate about this, but didn’t they mention at the beginning of the ALO arc that details about the SAO incident were kept secret?
As for Asuna’s situation, I don’t think Kirito has mentioned it to Suguha at all. Suguha knows that Asuna is in a coma, but I highly doubt that she knows anything about her position in ALO or that Kirito has dived into ALO to rescue her. As for how the two don’t recognize something when they both live in the same house, this doesn’t bother me because not all families are that close.
Marow: Now that you went deeper into the voices, it occurred to me that we have no clue the virtual reality machine, Nerve Gear, works. It does seem that the body, aside from breathing, is completely still. No muscular movement at all.
This should then also apply to voices, meaning that when they speak in-game, they do not speak in real life (imagine the embarrassing lines Kirito would say in his hospital bed otherwise). In other words, the voice in-game should be… completely different. Unless there is some weird voice test before you actually start the game.
Argh, we are reading too deep into this.
What I can comment on, though, is that their family does seem close. I mean, Kirito and Suguha are quite friendly with each other, are they not? I cannot see why they would keep any secrets from each other.
Speaking of secrets, you say that they mentioned how the SAO-incident should be kept a secret. I decided to look up the lines. Here they are:
Sugou: Really? So you’re the hero Kirito-kun?
Asuna’s father: Oh, I apologize… We aren’t supposed to discuss what happened inside the SAO server, right?
It is not clear whether or not they are allowed to speak of the incident, or if they only should keep quiet about it because of the players’ trauma or something along those lines. Whichever the case, the fact is that Kirito is known as a hero. In other words, he became famous for beating SAO and should be well-known to his sister Suguha.
Finally, what about their parents? At least they should know what is going on and maybe spill out a comment like “Jeez, you two. Should you really be playing?”. Although… this is anime, which means parents do not exist.