Hello and welcome to my very first anime review. And today I decided to look at a very popular anime series entitled Sword Art Online.
Now even though Sword Art Online has grown a large audience, most people are pretty split as to how good it really is. Some people think that it's incredibly creative and swiftly paced, and others think that it's irritatingly cliche and terribly corny. Now you might want to know what part of the crowd I'm in, but before that let's look at the story. And just to warn you there are MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!!! Read at your own risk.
Now the plot of Sword Art Online follows a young beta tester named Kirito, who had recently purchased an MMORPG video game known as Sword Art Online.
Now Sword Art Online the game, is a virtual reality world that allows the players to enter a completely different world and fight monsters, defeat bosses, and make allies in order to play their way up through 100 different levels of the game. All seems well at first, but then the players quickly realize that apparently they're somehow unable to log out of the game.
Now at this point the game's creator named Akihiko Kayaba comes before all of the players and tells them that he has trapped them all inside of the game and says that the only way to escape is to play there way through the game, defeat all 100 bosses, and kill Kayaba himself. But unfortunately, whenever the player sustains damage, it affects them in reality. And as such, whenever their avatar dies in the game world, they will die in reality.
Now as you can imagine, this stirs up panic. Not only are all of the bosses of the game tough as all hell, but if they die in a battle, they'll die for real. And since many of the fights are nearly impossible to complete, it seems as though all of the players are doomed.
But luckily they learn that Kirito was one of the many beta testers for the video game, and as such he has an incredible advantage. He's much stronger than the other players and knows the body of the game almost as well as his own body. And the players see this as their advantage to use Kirito to clear the game and escape back to reality.
And there's also another player named Asuna, who is also an incredibly powerful and high leveled player. Being the two strongest players in the game, her and Kirito team up throughout the majority of the series in order to clear as many floors as possible and beat the game and return to the real world.But as time goes on, they both realize that maybe it isn't all just about beating the game, and maybe there's more to fight for than they originally had thought.
So how does this series hold up? Well personally, I think it holds up surprisingly well. For starters, the animation style is absolutely wonderful.
Most of the fight scenes incorporate some absolutely stellar animation. The designs on many of the bosses is very creative, and the attentions to detail are very precise. There's also a lot of unique and creative animation designs on many of the fighting styles and attacks that are used by both the players and the bosses.
I also think that the series packs plenty of suspense, seeing as how the characters could die at any second and there are monsters all over the place that are out to finish them off, it's needless to say that I was very invested. I was constantly asking myself "What's gonna happen next?" "How are they gonna get out of this?" "Are they gonna make it?" I was very excited by it. And I mean that in the least dirty way possible.
But there was one part of this series that I felt reeeeeeeeeally pulled me in. And if you're worried about any further spoilers than you should definitely leave right now.
Kirito and Asuna eventually become this series main romance. YES!!! GO FANFICTION WRITERS!!!!! THE WONDERFUL FAN WORLD OF EROTIC AND SOMEWHAT CREEPY SWORD ART ONLINE FANFICTIONS AWAITS YOU!!!!!!! And I personally believe that this is one of the strongest and most believable relationships not just in an anime series, but in any series of TV shows or movies that I've ever seen.
In the beginning of the series, these two are actually really shy of each other. Which I imagine is to be expected, as of right now the only thing on their minds is getting out of this hell hole with their lives still intact.
But as time wears on, Kirito starts realizing that he shouldn't have to constantly subject himself to one simple task. Sometimes it's okay to just sit back and take a break every once in a while. Now as you can imagine, Asuna doesn't agree with him. Being the tough as nails bitch that she is, she believes that the only way that she'll be able to escape the game is to keep moving and kill anybody or anything that tries to slow her down.
But then she realizes, maybe he's right. And she learns that she needs to just relax every little bit. And as a result, she starts to hang around with him more often and even takes some more tips from him. The two then start hanging out a lot more often and learn even more things from one another. As time goes on they become very close friends and fight together side by side.
As they go on many more missions together, they grow much more protective of one another. Each subjecting themselves to the task of protecting the other.
And after an incident in which Asuna saves Kirito's life because she's so f*****g awesome, the two realize that they're madly in love. Instead of focusing on clearing the game, the two focus much more on being there for one another. They even get married inside of the game..........that's weird as shit, but still adorable. In my eyes, this relationship plays out much like a real life relationship. Think about it, when you first meet somebody you may feel as though there's no possible way that you could ever love or even give a shit about them or vice versa. But as time goes on, you may realize that there's much more complexity to the person that meets the eye. You may learn that the two of you also share many similar interests and have many traits in common with each other. And as a result of this, you'd probably start hanging out around the person much more often than you originally did. And as time goes on, you start learning much more about each other. And eventually your relationship might start growing. You may start hanging out with them more than with your actual friends, and start doing different things with them as well. And eventually, you might fall in love with each other. And of course, you'd start being there with them every possible second that you can, why? because you're in love.
And that's the exact way that the relationship between these two plays out. And in my opinion, it's one of the strongest and most adorable pairs I've ever seen.
So I guess right now you're probably thinking that I have nothing negative to say about this series. Well, unfortunately there are some pretty irritating flaws.
For example, there's an incredible overabundance of side characters. Okay normally I could look around this if they were interesting or complex. But they're not, a good majority of them have very little impact on the plot and have almost no defining traits. To make things worse, I don't even remember half of their names. Most of them just jump into the story at some random moment and then randomly jump out again, and they're almost never revisited making for incredibly forgettable side characters.
To add to it, the villains are also really over the top and somehow boring at the same time. They almost never really do anything and are hardly ever even mentioned. They're also incredibly cliche, forgettable, and really one dimensional. A series as suspenseful as this could have at least come up with better villains.
But now let's get to the biggest problem that I and most people have with this series.
In the latter half of the series, after the protagonists have cleared Sword Art Online. Another MMORPG is released known as Alfheim Online. In this game, characters can take the forms of fairies and take on even more quests and fights than in SAO. Kirito ventures into this game as he believes that Asuna is being held prisoner there and is in dire need of a rescue. And yes you heard right. Asuna, one of the most awesome and badass characters in this whole series, has been demoted to a damsel in distress. The biggest problem I have with this arc is the complete lack of suspense. The players can die in the game and simply respawn and can also log out any time that they want. The first half built up the suspense very well because the characters were trapped and could die at any second and die in real life as well. Now that they can leave at any time and can't really die, there's very little suspense.
Now I do have to admit that I WAS worried about what was going to happen to Asuna seeing as she was the only one being held prisoner in the game. For some reason some weird hacker guy or something had captured her before she could leave SAO and was trying to get her to love him and even tried raping her on more than one occasion. As the arc went on I did really want Kirito to save her and for the two to be able to meet back up in the real world. Although the arc packed little suspense, I guess I did care about that part of it.
So in the end I'll say that Sword Art Online is a very enjoyable and thoroughly entertaining anime series. Is it perfect? Of course not, but what IS perfect? Despite the second half's lack of thrills and a very forgettable side cast, Sword Art Online still packs plenty of suspense, action, gorgeous animation, and in my opinion, one of the best romances in a series. If you're looking for something complex and deep, I'd recommend looking elsewhere. But if you're looking for a fun and action packed anime series, I'd recommend it
Score: 8/10 (Really Good)