Sunday, 16 March 2014

Anime Review: Sword Art Online

A huge sigh of relief, I was finally able to finish all 25 episodes of Sword Art Online (SAO) a day before my study life is predestined to come back and haunt me. Then again, this is one anime worth watching. I totally understand why SAO was such a hype back in 2012, though I wasn't fully convinced then. I shall attempt to write a review of it now, but it will be a tough one considering the complexity of this anime. The review does contain some spoilers although it wouldn't really matter considering that I'm probably the last human on Earth to watch that anime.

Title: Sword Art Online (SAO). I honestly thought it was an actual MMORPG.

What is it about: You might heard of this before. A guy trapped in a virtual reality whereby a person dies when his/her character is killed in the game.

Review: I am going to do things a little differently this time. I will start by introducing to you some of the characters. There are indeed many characters in SAO. I had the SAO anime in my laptop since a very long time ago but haven't had the opportunity to watch it until now. Before I watched it, I did bought a poster of SAO and place it directly in front of my desk in my room simply because the characters look promising. Thankfully they did and my investment was totally worth it! :D

So let me start by introducing the main character, Kirito. Unlike most characters in anime, this one is what people would describe as overpowered. I won't deny it considering the fact that he pretty much pwned every opponent he faced alone no matter how supposedly tough the opponent is. Most of the time, characters like these are not likable. Kirito however isn't that bad. Yes, he does go crazy in battles but he's also pretty cool. He's like the Dante of SAO although there are certain period of time where he became totally depressed and emotional. This is when I really pitied him, as explained by the picture below:

Yeap, truer words have never been spoken, which leads me to my next point. When Kirito joins a guild, the guild members are indeed likable although obviously they are unimportant. Suffice to say, everyone dies. One of them is a sweet little girl named Sachi. I liked her, but she died a little too soon: Episode 3. I mean, she is voiced by Hayami Saori, but I didn't expect a character voiced by Hayami Saori to die in episode 3. Yeah I cried too. *sobs*

After some time, Kirito met everyone's favorite character in SAO: Asuna, which I expect Kirito to meet earlier but thankfully SAO managed to avoid that cliche. My first impression of Asuna is that she is a tsundere. Well, she is somewhat a tsundere but she at least she is not too extreme. I do agree that Asuna is a very likable character. She is friendly and intelligent at the same time. She's also insanely powerful. Good thing that SAO at least gave Kirito and Asuna some challenging adversary regardless the fact that they are overpowered. In that aspect SAO is interesting. Also, ultimately Asuna became Kirito's lover to the surprise of no one. However, it did impressed me that it is a love story I actually cared about and liked it. Perhaps it's because there are lots of sense of adventure in the development of their relationship over time, and that the characters didn't exactly blindly fell for each other. Then again, I gotta say that Kirito is one hell of a chick magnet. Lolies included.

Moving on to the storyline, SAO did have more episodes than one would expect as I shall explain later. But to enjoy SAO, one should preferably have some experiences in MMORPG's. If you don't know what an MMORPG is, well, some things might not make sense in SAO. The storyline of SAO is simple. SAO turned out to be an online game of death whereby players are trapped in and are forced to defeat 100 bosses in order to escape the online world. What makes this anime interesting despite the simple storyline is the complexity of the SAO world itself. SAO gives you a sense of adventure within its vast system, just like how video games gives you the opportunity of exploration. Of course, we have to keep in mind that this is about a death game and real life of the characters are at stake, which leads the plot to some conflicts and twists. However, badass Kirito managed to survive it all somehow.

All the storyline that made up SAO seemed to end at episode 14, and it can easily be concluded as the final episode. However, the creators of SAO anime obviously thought 14 episodes just doesn't quite cut it and extended the anime by another 11 episodes by complicating things a little. These 11 episodes could well be a whole new season altogether. In fact, the characters are no longer in the world of SAO but in a new online world called Al-something Online (AO). Not only do they enter a whole new universe, but the entire storyline changes. This time there are no death involved, but there are other problems and the course of the storyline remain simple: Asuna is kidnapped and Kirito had to rescue her. Well, AO does have some connections to SAO though which you will understand once you watched it. If I were to choose to play between SAO and AO, I'll probably choose SAO (without the death element of course) considering it is more physical centered as compared to the latter which is more magic centered. AO does allow you to fly though, as a fairy that is.

For the fight scenes in SAO (I'm talking about the whole of the anime) boy I love the fight scenes. Most of which involved sword fights (duh) but they are pretty epic. Also, while most of the time Kirito just went on and slay everyone, at times situation does require him to strategize and work together with his teammates. By the way, one thing I really enjoyed in SAO is the way they made the antagonist so despicable that you seriously felt like grabbing a knife and brutally murdering your television or computer screen. However, you do get rewarded by the way Kirito defeats the main antagonist. It was pretty... YIKES! On top of all those epic fight scenes, you do get some pretty epic background music. But then I do felt like I've heard it somewhere. No, I definitely have heard this music before in Xenosaga III. I did some research on Google and found out that the composer of the music was Yuki Kajiura. Oh why am I so very not surprised?

Last but not least, no anime is without flaw. There is one comment that I would like to state among others,  which I made earlier on Facebook but I'll just gonna copy it and paste it right here. So Kirito went to the fairy world to look for his gf then stumbled upon a random character, Leafa who offers her help to Kirito in his quest, and turns out the all along Leafa is Kirito's sister and both were completely oblivious to the fact. Oh come on, the second Leafa spoke I realized immediately it's Ayana Taketatsu who also voiced the sister. I searched on Google and confirmed that Leafa is indeed the sister which was already a spoiler for me, but it took Leafa and Kirito 7 episodes to figure out they were siblings. 最悪は君!!! (Saiaku wa kimi!!!) (You are the worst!!!). But yeah, Ayana Taketatsu displayed her most prominent talent by voicing Kirito's sister, well not exactly sister but it does have a long story so I'll continue to assume that she is Kirito's sister. Honestly, I swear Ayana Taketatsu voices the best imoutos ever!

In conclusion, what is Sword Art Online? Well, I'd say it is a debate on the ethical issues concerning virtual reality gaming consoles should one day it is invented, and its effect on human consciousness and emotions. Virtual reality gaming consoles is everybody's dream, but I guess there will me issues to be addressed and will probably never become reality. SAO highlights that perfectly, though by the end of the anime, virtual reality MMORPGs continue to exist. Anyway, if one day it does exist, then I might have a pretty good chance of finding myself a girlfriend! Jk XD

Rating: 8/10


  1. I like this anime very much,and also have seen many cosplay about this anime, the Sword Art Online Cosplay Costume was very beautiful, I like that