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Sword Art Online December 27, 2012

Posted by coolmikeol in Anime, Otaku.
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Sword Art Online

 

Sword Art Online (ソードアート・オンライン) is a Adventure, Romance, Science Fantasy series created by Reki Kawahara who also wrote Accel World which takes place within the same setting universe. Here is a summary of Sword Art Online’s plot from Wikipedia which spanned for the fist two arcs. (SPOILER ALERT!):

In the year 2022, the Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG), Sword Art Online (SAO), is released. With the Nerve Gear, a virtual reality helmet that stimulates the user’s five senses via their brain, players can experience and control their in-game characters with their minds.

On November 6, 2022, all the players log in for the first time, and subsequently discover that they are unable to log out. They are then informed by Kayaba Akihiko, the creator of SAO, that if they wish to be free, they must reach the 100th floor of the game’s tower and defeat the final boss. However, if their avatars die in-game, their bodies will also die in the real world. The story follows Kirito, a skilled player who is determined to beat the game. As the game progresses for two years, Kirito eventually befriends a female player named Asuna with whom he eventually falls in love with. After the duo discover the identity of Kayaba’s avatar in SAO, they confront and defeat him, freeing themselves and the other players from the game.

Upon returning to the real world, Kirito learns that Asuna and a small group of SAO players has still not awakened yet. Following a clue about Asuna’s whereabouts in another VRMMORPG called Alfheim Online (ALO), Kirito also logs in there. Kirito soon learns the trapped players in ALO are part of a plan devised by Nobuyuki Sugō to perform illegal experiments on their minds to put them under his control including Asuna, whom he intends to marry in the real world in order to take over her family’s company. Helped by his sister Suguha, Kirito stops Nobuyuki’s plans and finally reunites with Asuna in the real world.

My Overview of SAO

I remember the first time knowing of Sword Art Online was looking at the Summer 2012 Anime Lists. At first glance it looked like a simple anime based on it’s description and image used for the anime list as shown.

Sword Art Online Anime List Image

The artwork reminded me of Working!, expected as both animes were animated by A-1 Pictures, and that’s what put me off of planning to watch it initially. (Not that I don’t like Working!, it’s just that it looked plain like the respective anime.) Reading the description now, I don’t know if Kirito was a “genius programmer”, but I do remember in the anime mentioning how Kirito was good with computers so it could be true (which I found out he is due to his aunt). I have not read SAO’s Light Novel or manga so all my information is coming from the anime; well since it’s over I’ll probably start reading it when I have time.

What got me to start watching it was hearing the first opening theme song “Crossing Field” for the first time, not during the opening sequence of the anime, no. The first time I heard Crossing Field was at the live LiSA concert at Anime Expo 2012. Music from animes is one of the things I look for while watching it, if it has good music to me, it’s worth trying the watch. I should of recorded it when I had the chance as we were allowed to record from the concert, but oh well.

 The first arc of Sword Art Online comprised episodes 1 through 14 of the floating castle Aincrad which is like a traditional medieval MMORPG. I liked this arc because of how it implemented a MMORPG within an anime. Of course there are other animes that have come before SAO that have done the virtual reality theme such as the .hack series (which I haven’t watched), but this was the first anime I’ve watched with this kind of theme, so it’s kind of new to me. I liked to compare it a bit with how I played the MMORPG Guild Wars 2 with my friends.

Like I mentioned before, since I didn’t read any of the light novel or manga of SAO, I basically made my own experience of SAO wholly based on the anime. But still knowing that animes or any animated visual adaptation of a written source doesn’t fully cover everything was evident while watching the anime. The first several episodes felt a bit random as it jumped to highlight events of Kirito’s adventure. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it, but I got a bit confused about the timeline as usually in the beginning of the episode they would show the date which I ended up disregarding as I forgot the date they started SAO (November 6, 2022) for reference. I figured that these events were from the Light Novel, and because of that, the between events were left out for obvious time constraints.

My favorite moments from the SAO arc comes from the dungeon fights and Kirito/Asuna scenes. I think that’s a lot of everyone’s favorite’s but who would say otherwise I guess. Kirito’s dual blades skill, especially with Starburst Stream, was the best scenes in my opinion. I just can’t get enough of watching Kirito pushing hard and fast with both swords in hand against a foe that seems tough.

Sword Art Online - Dual Blades

The ending of the SAO arc was enjoyable and climatic in my opinion. It wasn’t the best, as I felt that the direct explanation by Kayaba Akihiko about why he did all this was sort of stupid: “Why, huh? I forgot a long time ago. I wonder why…” Though after that statement he kind of explains it as creating a world that surpassed the laws and restrictions of our own world, which that Kirito managed to surpass as well.

Sword Art Online - Reason

The second part of Sword Art Online, the Alfheim Online (ALO) arc was not as great as the SAO arc. In this arc we incorporate the real world with the new virtual world of Alfheim Online. With Asuna trapped, Kirito arrives back to the virtual world a mere couple of months after the SAO incident to get Asuna back to the real world before Sugou can marry Asuna. What kind of lowers the bar for this second part is the obvious fan service. While having some in an anime is fine to me, having it come from Kirito’s supposed sister (actually his cousin) is a bit strange. While the backstory between the Kirigaya siblings is believable, it feels a bit forced in my opinion, making it almost an incest theme for this part. Why does most similarly aged anime sibling pairs I see have to have some sort of incest theme? Is it because it adds to the drama or plot? I don’t know, but I’m not going to argue against the author. I still think it’s ok but that’s why I felt the second part of SAO was not as good as the first. My second problem with the ALO arc was that it felt kind of empty in between towns or events. It was basically fight, town, fight, town, with almost no smaller scenes. Again, time constraints for the ALO which had only ten episodes to show the whole arc. I just wish they showed some of the returning SAO characters that was in ALO such as Silica or Klein, instead of some characters that only appeared briefly. To me it would of felt better to tie in SAO with ALO more in the anime.

Sword Art Online Ending

The conclusion of the 25 episodes of SAO was quite something. It reminded me of the ending for Final Fantasy 8, my favorite Final Fantasy; with Aincrad slowly floating into view next to ALO’s World Tree under the moonlight with the grand music playing right after, the way FFVIII’s Balamb Garden did too, and with the ending credits first showing the SAO Title and screenshots of scenes of the anime series with Crossing Field playing reminded me of how FFVIII’s ending credits played too. When Kirito was first presented with the World Seed, I thought at first that would be a precursor to a direct sequel anime. Since I haven’t read the LN, I guess it is part of the general storyline as the next arc probably runs off of the fact that now VRMMORPGs are now spread worldwide which means new games can be made such as GGO. Seeing as there is enough material around for another season of the Sword Art Online series, and with it’s popularity as well, I wouldn’t be surprised if a second season of SAO was announced for maybe 2014. We’ll have to wait and see.

Sword Art Online

The series overall was filled with action, science fantasy with the thought of putting yourself in a virtual world, romance, all wrapped up in an adventure called Sword Art Online. The music of the series; the theme songs by multiple artists and background music, composed by Kajiura Yuki, also helped create the proper atmosphere for the scenes of SAO, especially the now known battle music that plays anytime Kirito is about to do epic things. I give it a 9 out of 10, with hopes to see the series grow more in the future.

— A Short Message —

It’s really been a while since I’ve written an anime overview review. For some reason it’s a bit hard to start but once I do, it all comes together. What puts me off about writing these sometimes is the feel of having to explain everything from square one. If you’re here to read my review, then I should assume you’ve watched it before. What I’ll do from now on to make it easier and more enjoyable for myself to write these reviews, is to just include a quick synopsis/summary and my Overview/Review without having to go into extensive explanation of  characters or terminology of the series. I’ll leave Wikipedia and My Anime List for that.

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