Welcome to Sword Art Online.
A series that has its characters trapped in a virtual world where if you die in the game you die for real, SAO employed a theme that has been seen countless of times in anime, but nevertheless, fans seem to love it. Sword Art Online was a huge success when it came out back in 2012 and the main reason was that it brought together elements that could create a huge fandom base: relatable young badass main character, cute girls, romance, and a fairly good plot.
The year is 2022. Sword Art Online, a virtual reality massively multiplayer online role-playing game (VRMMORPG) is released, where the players control their characters with their minds through a device called NerveGear. This device can stimulate the player’s senses into the game, making it feel extremely realistic. When the game launched, only 10.000 players had the possibility to log in for the first time but to their surprise, they were unable to log out of the game. Akihiko Kayaba, the creator of the game, appears to them and tells them that they need to beat all bosses of the 100 floors within the game in order to get out, otherwise they will stay forever in the virtual world and of course if they die in-game or someone removes the NevreGear, they will lose their lives. So the players, after freaking out, try to beat the game and get back to their real bodies.
Plot & Story
The main character is Kazuto Kirigaya, in-game known as Kirito, who had the chance to be one of the beta testers for Sword Art Online before getting released, giving him a huge advantage within the game. This season of Sword Art Online is divided into two arcs, one being ‘Aincrad’ and the other being ‘Fairy Dance’. In the first arc, we follow the adventures of Kirito as he is trying his best to beat the game and free everyone. He meets a girl named Asuna, who shares high-level combat skills and with whom he teams up and tries to finish the game. During the time they spend together, they start to develop feelings for each other and promise to free each other from the game and continue their relationship in real life. When they actually manage to beat the game, Kirito wakes up in the real world but finds out that Asuna is still not able to come back to her senses. Three months later he discovers that Asuna is being held captive within another virtual game called ‘ALfheim Online’ and decides to enter the game to rescue her. In my humble opinion, the plot feels a bit rushed and the conclusion a bit too sudden compared to how slow-paced it was after the first and until Episode 9. Even after the first arc ends and you think: ‘Oh. Is it over?’ they manage to drag it a bit more by using a spiritual successor to the game and yet another excuse for Kirito to get involved in another game, in which of course he is still super badass.
Art & Music
The animation was really good with nice backgrounds, effects, and good fighting scenes. Character design was okay, beautifully-made but nothing out of the ordinary or really interesting. The female characters in the show had really nice outfits but sometimes the fact that some of them acted all shy when they were dressed up a bit too revealingly was ridiculous. The soundtrack was also very well made and I particularly enjoyed the background music in Kirito’s intense fighting scenes. I am talking about this.
Themes & Trivia
Fun facts that were missed in the anime adaptation:
Asuna was not supposed to be the one to play Sword Art Online when she did. The NerveGear that she owns was originally meant for her brother but he had to go on a business trip and Asuna decided to play in his place.
Kirito tried wielding three swords but he gave up and compromised with two since he felt like his teeth would fall out. Nice One Piece reference right there.
Yggdrasil: In the last episode of the anime, they mention that they will meet in the city of Yggdrasil, which coincidently is the same name for the fictional online game in the Overlord series. Originally, Yggdrasil is an immense mythical tree that connects the nine worlds in Norse cosmology.
Even though I am not crazy about Sword Art Online, I did enjoy the romance part of the anime and it was kind of cute to see Kirito and Asuna developing a relationship in the virtual world, and of course in that kind of age, because getting married and a house together when they are 14 would be kind of impossible, especially in Japan. On another note, Sugo aka Oberon the Fairy King, honestly made me want to vomit with his perviness when he was licking her face and smelling her hair… And it was even implied that he raped her in the virtual world? I mean what the actual f*ck Sword Art Online, don’t give this kind of ideas to people. Our world is already fu*ked up enough, don’t you think? The last thing that I have to comment is that when Kirito woke up, he was like a walking skeleton and looked like shit but nooo when Asuna wakes up she is all fabulous. Double standards just because she is female. Oh well…
- Nice fighting scenes
- Interesting and engaging plot idea
- Good voice acting
- Cute romance
- Plot disappoints as the anime reached its final episodes
- It gets ridiculous that every time the main character engages with a female character, she falls for him
- No character development whatsoever
Overall, the anime is not bad. I think the plot idea is very interesting and appealing but at least for me, it was not strong enough to keep me excited. There were many moments throughout the season where I felt kind of bored with the plot and that it was dragging too much. Despite all that, it’s something that is easy to watch and can be quite entertaining. The next season of Sword Art Online follows similar patterns in different virtual reality games, if you enjoyed the first season you should definitely watch the next one, Sword Art Online II. Cheers!
Sword Art Online
Official North American Website: http://www.swordart-onlineusa.com/