SAO has a LOT of problems, ranging from a billion plotholes to having a cast full of invincible main characters. It’s very much a terrible show, and something with just oh-so-many things to make legitimate complaints about. However, I want to focus on just one, what is it? One of the biggest; The way characters are introduced and then killed off in the same episode – and the viewer is supposed to be impacted by it. Or, like with Sachi, how the scene of her dying has been played at least 100 times and the series constantly tries to force you to feel sad about it – yet you never do.
Why pick this out of all the other problems? Because, this is an issue that usually gets blamed on the pacing – especially by readers of the novel. “Well, the show messed up by having them die so soon, the pacing is too fast” and other things along those lines. This is an arc in the story where, sorry to use this godawful movie catchphrase, if you die in the game you die in real life. Death is a big deal, and this is a serious series.
However, lets take a look at a full on comedy, a show with nothing serious about it aside how weird it is at times. Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san! A pretty good underrated comedy with a surprisingly all star seiyuu cast. And let me note, the episodes are only 10 minutes (aside op and ed) total in length, unlike the ~22 you get with SAO.
What’s the connection? In Azazel there is one episode where a new demon is introduced. A bull the size and shape of a bigger plushie is the way he looks. He has NO lines. He does NOTHING. All he does the entire episode is sit there, and at one point stab himself with his horns, but he’s a demon so he can’t die and it’s just part of the comedy of the episode – as he’s supposed to be one of the scariest demons but he’s just sitting there doing jack shit. He’s not even important to what’s happening and is just there.
Then, he’s killed by an Angel near the end of the episode.
And it’s legitimately sad.
How can a comedy series and a character that’s there for like 5 minutes, that has no value, no lines, no anything to care about or like, SOMEHOW make a sincere actually sad feeling moment for the viewer – all while SAO can’t manage that after killing half the cast and having you continually have Sachi’s dying face forced on screen every single fucking episode?
I don’t know, I really don’t. But it just goes to show how bad SAO is, and how all the excuses about pacing are irrelevant. If Azazel could make me care about a fucking plush cow who sat there for 5 minutes, then there’s no excuse a show couldn’t make me feel bad about a very cute girl being killed after 22 minutes and lots of development in comparison. It’s just hilariously pathetic.