This is one reason why I avoid reading manga or light novels. People tend to compare when an anime have its roots in manga or light novels.
I have not read any SAO material so watching the anime was very enjoyable. For an anime, it had very good character development. I was able to see the growth in the characters.
Artwork was top-notch all the way to the end.
I like how the anime explores the psychology aspects of online gamers. What will a gamer do if he/she is stuck in the game world? With only one way out, that is to clear the game, will they work together. Logic will tell us to work together, that is the best course of action. But human nature sometimes just over-rides logic and that was vividly depicted in the anime. The hero, Kirito and heroine, Asuna, doesn't annoy me this time. Both have strong character and neither were reduced to helpless characters that depend on the other to survive, like in so many other animes I have seen. This time, Kirito and Asuna can stand on their own two feet and stand their ground by themselves if the need arise. This is one of the things that made me like this anime so much.
I also like how they explore about "love" in a virtual world. Like Asuna said, eventho this is world is virtual her feelings are real.
I don't know if this exists in the books, in the anime it has some, not so obvious, references to the game, Tower of Druaga. One of the most successful dungeon-crawl RPG. Tower of Druaga had its own anime, so when I first saw SAO it totally reminded me of TOD. Especially when they are talking about killing the boss level and clearing levels. With one difference, TOD had magic users and archers.
Anyone here who have seen SAO, have also watched Accel World?
I don't know if anyone have notice but this two are somehow related. SAO is the first to employ full-dive virtual reality. What enabled it was the Nerve Gear. Approx. 20 years later, Accel World came to being and utilising a Neural Link instead. In the anime, Accel World, it was hinted that the Nerve Gear was the predeccesor of the Neural Link. This implies that the two stories are "on the same page". Will the story, especially for Accel World, reveal how it is related to SAO? This is one of the things I'm curious about. Obviously, I'm also wondering if Kirito and Asuna is still alive in the Accel World timeline.
I did some searching... I assume this is part of the summary for the novel ( this is from SAO wiki ).
Kirito is later recruited to assist in the development of a state-of-the-art game, UnderWorld (UW), which has an interface that is far more realistic and complex than the previous games he had played. In UW, the flow of time proceeds thousands of times faster than in the real world. However, he ends up falling into a trap set by one of the murderers from GGO and wakes up inside the game, unable to log out, with his real self left in a comatose state. As he starts to question if he is the real Kirito or an artificial intelligence modeled after him, Asuna, Suguha and Sinon also log themselves into UW in an attempt to help him.
"flow of time proceeds thousands of times faster than in the real world" - Accelarated World
Hahaha... Burst Link!