FUKUOKA, Japan — The mysterious death of 24-year-old Takashima Ryuuji has been linked to the action-fantasy RPG Sword Art Offline. Sources state that Ryuuji was an obsessive player of Sword Art Offline, often spending up to 24 hours a day playing as his character, a 24-year-old part-time college student.
Takashima was found early in the morning on a sidewalk last week, bearing injuries apparent from being struck by a motor vehicle. After being transported to a hospital, he was declared dead later in the morning. Authorities immediately began an investigation but could not come up with any clues.
“We found the body, but no one else was there,” said lead investigator Suzumi Koichiro. “This kid was apparently run over by a car, but when the body was found there were no cars close by. The pieces just don’t add up.”
Shortly afterwards, rumors began to spread about the involvement Sword Art Offline, a role playing game that is quickly rising in popularity. Anime Maru caught up to one of its players.
“I discovered Sword Art Offline a few months ago, ” said Matsuhiro Itou. “The game has great graphics; it’s way more immerse and realistic than anything else. I love the little details like having to eat and sleep, in game!”
Over a span of three months, Matsuhiro emerged from his room and gained enough experience to hold down a decent office job and earn a steady income of the in-game currency, “yen”. Matsuhiro is part of an emerging wave of hardcore Sword Art Offline players who dedicate countless hours to developing their characters, which they refer to as a “life”.
“I’m really proud of my life. Sure it was really hard joining a company, but I really focused on my skill points and went to a merchant who gave me tips on my resume,” Matsuhiro recalls. “Now I grind all day at my job, but it really brings in the yen. I need it, since it’s so expensive to live in the city.”
What does this have to do with Takashima’s death?
“Well, it’s kind of a myth that’s been going around Sword Art Offline. I personally don’t believe it, but sometimes things happen that make me wonder,” Matsuhiro hushedly told Anime Maru.
“When you die in life, you die in real life.”
While Sword Art Offline players have long dismissed this as silly speculation, recent events have brought the myth into the forefront. Many players have expressed fear and anxiety over potentially losing much more should something happen to their lives.
“I didn’t go through two years of grinding for this,” said one high level character. “I’m going to Aokigahara to close my account.”