English: Sword Art Online
Synonyms: S.A.O, SAO
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Jul 8, 2012 to Dec 23, 2012
Duration: 23 min. per episode
Rating: PG-13 - Teens 13 or olderL represents licensing company
Score: 8.331 (scored by 102580 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
2 based on the top anime page.
Popular TagsNo tags found
Feb 26, 2013
Yes it's a popular anime, yes it has flaws, no it's not perfect, but at the very least in my opinion it is enjoyable. The pacing is off, the beginning particularly feels rushed, there were moments where I thought I skipped an episode because of the time skips which made it difficult to really connect with any of the characters in the beginning, and there were some less than stellar instances where it felt like the anime was trying to make me care but failing hard.
Some characters felt to be completely forgotten throughout most of this series too. For example in the beginning we are introduced to a character named Klein who is quickly pushed aside after the first episode and barely seen again and doesn't really make much of an impact at all on the story later on. This seems to happen a lot throughout this series where there might be some emotional moments where a character dies, or something dramatic happens but there is really no emotional impact from it, and the main character seems to not really care that much about it or it doesn't really effect anything significantly.
I really felt this series shined from around episodes 4-13 and I wish they would have kept with that pace instead of rushing an ending midway and throwing something new at us. The second half just felt completely unnecessary and forced.
Pushing the negative aside, I found the overall theme and atmosphere of the series to be great, and being an avid lover the MMORPG genre obviously a lot of things in this series appealed to me. I really enjoyed the idea of being stuck in a game that was impossible to escape from without winning and having real consequences, it really made everything much more dramatic and meaningful in the story. Sadly this quickly goes away midway through the plot.
If I had to pick two of the best things this anime did well for me it would probably be the animation and soundtrack. They both were really well done, and honestly without them being as good as they were this series would have gotten a much lower score from me, and when I say I really enjoyed the soundtrack I mean that I loved it, it was superb.
I think what it really comes down was just the fact that I enjoyed watching it. I can look at the flaws and pick the anime apart pretty easily, but those flaws never really stopped me from enjoying this anime.I really do feel though that it had a lot of potential to be a top tier series, it just made far too many mistakes. Looking at it objectively I simply cannot give this anime higher than a 7. It was good because I found it to be enjoyable, but it wasn't great or amazing.
At the end of the day I watch anime because I want something that will entertain me and keep me interested, and I feel that Sword Art Online did a good job at accomplishing that.
4 hours ago
To start of this anime started out really great and it could've easily be one of the top animes if they would have stopped it halfway through, after they ''Completed'' the game it turned into a gigant mess and the series flopped totally in the story and enjoyment, i basically wanted to skip episodes that's how boring it was. But i still think people giving it 1-3 in overall rating is being really unfair cause in my opinion the starting makes up for the shitty ending.
Story (3/10): In the begining of the series we can clearly see what the charachters goals are and what they need to do to acomplish it and i would rate the first half of the series 9/10 without questionsing. Then they turn over the tables and decided to do one more game and it turns into a gigant mess and all you loved about it will count for nothing.
Art (8/10): The art is well animated and the style of the anime is well made, some people say it's shitty just because of the way the writers went ahead and completly destroyed the anime. I can not aggre to the art and sound falling behind in any part tho.
Sound(8/10): The voice actors did a great job and the music served this anmie very well.
Character (4/10): You get to know some really intresting characters in the anime and they all have something special about themselves but it's so cliché that it's even off the charts. You get only fractional background stories and don't really understand the motives of why some of them do certain stuff.
Enjoyment (3/10): For the first half you are really intrigued to see the next episode and it's close to impossible to not fall in love with it, tho in the second part you will lose interest really quick and just want to get the anime overwith as quickly as possible.
Overall (4/10): As i said before, the starting to around halfway through the series it's story is compelling and you get hooked fairy quick as well there is some goosebumps moments, but after that it just goes downhill and you get pissed at the writers each and every episode for making it so obvious and it feels so much like they are milking it (which they are). The reason people under rate the series is because it leaves you on a really bad mood it should've had the same ending but cut out the part about the second game.
So my recommendation is to watch until they get out of the game and then completely skipping the second game and watch the last episodes and you will probably love the series.
This is how i rate the series and i hope some of you can agree with me and thanks alot for reading it :). read more
Dec 31, 2012
Sword Art Online is no exception.
SAO, the anime adaptation of a series of light novels of the same name by Reki Kawahara, has been the much talked about show of the Summer and Fall 2012 seasons, and taking into consideration the incredible hype surrounding it with reviews of mixed sorts, it’s likely to stay that way for quite some time. Keeping in mind the vogue of MMORPG’s and the demand for something ‘captivating’, the team behind SAO attempts to bring an enticing work to the table by executing the intriguing premise of ‘players trapped in a VRMMORPG where death equates death in real life and the only way out is to clear the game’. Unfortunately, SAO fails at many levels which is a shame because when the anime kicked off with the highly anticipated first episode, all seemed well and it gave the vibes of something truly worth spending your time on but then it does a flip and from this point, things go awry. And here we have it— one of the most controversial anime of the recent years.
Before proceeding with the review, let’s get one thing straight. I’ve not read the original source material. The light novels, that is. Hence, I’m not going to draw any comparison between that and the anime. With that out of the way, let’s keep the ball rolling.
SAO on the surface has a fairly interesting premise, no doubt, and it’s executed well to some extent or so did it initially seem. The very idea of a large number of people logged into a VRMMORPG with the intention of embarking on a virtual reality adventure but only to be struck with utter horror as they’re faced with the shocking truth of the game has been put into effect quite satisfactorily in the first episode. It’s pretty much what I’d call an excellent start. However, SAO effortlessly manages to send all my expectations and enthusiasm down the drain for it takes the show only an episode or two to reveal its true colors followed by the disappointment it has in store.
So, what goes wrong? Well, many things actually.
Following the Great Beginning, the first arc decides to take a detour and invests on a few episodes dealing with side stories in which our protagonist Kirito gets acquainted with one girl per episode and ends up rescuing her from a jam. This is precisely why I like referring to this bunch of side stories as ‘episodic harem’ where the primary heroine of the story and Kirito’s love interest Asuna is assumed to be constant and the other girls are variables. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, these side stories have very little to nothing to contribute to the series as a whole. Admittedly, they equip the viewers with some clever, little details here and there regarding how the game world works but these details have hardly have any bearing to the overall plot. The primary goal of these filler-like episodes appears to be that of giving our hero clad in black an opportunity to flaunt how much of a chick magnet he is and how he has it all that takes to be the coolest dude in this world made up of zillions of pixels. To boot, the characters (read: cute chicks) that appear in these episodes have absolutely no substantial role to play in the story later on. ‘Side’ characters indeed. And SAO knows how to effectively sideline them.
When the arc finally gets itself back on track, it’s only natural to hope that the show will now have something worthwhile to deliver. However, that isn’t the case. If anything, some severe cracks begin to appear as very soon the focus of SAO is the romance between the two leads which is, in one word, cheesy. At this point, opinions are divided. The romance aspect, for some, can be appealing while for others, it can be a major turn off especially if they don’t like the characters involved. It all comes down to personal preference. However, personal preferences aren’t a convincing excuse by any means to overlook the fact that the story, world building and everything else take a backseat for the sake of allowing the two leads to be lovey-dovey in the backdrop of gorgeous sceneries. When the arc does manage to divert its focus on to some ‘serious business’, things look good for a while but with a rather unimpressive ending, the first arc concludes on a pretty bad note in my book.
And then begins the second arc which to be blunt is a letdown… again.
The second arc or the ALO arc is set within ALfheim Online, abbreviated as ALO, a VRMMORPG successor to SAO. Kirito logs in with a mission to rescue his wife (Asuna, duh) from the clutches of an archetypical antagonist who is a disgrace to all the villains we’ve come across so far in fiction. This arc showcases some really eye candy visuals that are a pleasure to behold but that’s pretty much its only redeeming point. It doesn’t have anything much going on except for a few climatic action sequences now and then with intense battle music playing in the background that last only for a while. Not to mention, there’s another chick added to Kirito’s harem: Suguha, his little sister or I should say cousin.
And then the hilarity ensues.
The manner in which ALO is brought to a close is appalling to say the least and at the same laughable because it doesn’t hesitate to use the much notorious plot device dues ex machina, ruining whatever hopes there were for the final confrontation with the villain. The poor conclusion could be excused if it was handled more cleverly and convincingly but a blatant ass pull is by no means satisfactory. If anything, it only proves that the writer faced a dead end and was unable to think of anything better and creative, and expected the audience to swallow down whatever he could come up with, no matter how downright stupid it is.
Among all the other things, the most easily noticeable flaw without a doubt is the execution of the plot itself which is all over the place. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out after a couple of episodes that SAO suffers from poor pacing and inconsistency. It appears to be highly indecisive as to what exactly it wants to do and how to get it done. This is mostly evident in the first arc which is incredibly rushed at many parts. There’re timeskips and the next thing you realize is that the characters have already cleared quite a lot of floors while keeping us, the viewers, in the dark. This makes the plot disjointed, prevents any sort of correlation to the win-or-die situation that the characters have been put into and gives everything the feel of it being nothing more than a piece of cake. The struggle for survival and a sense of urgency are hardly felt even though the lives of the characters have been said to be literally at stake. The episodes dealing exclusively with the lead couple taking some time off for a ‘vacation’ and subsequently ending up building a virtual family can further make one wonder: Why are they so carefree when they’re supposed to chalk out plans to beat the game and make a quick escape? To put it in other words, the arc has a tendency to go off track. It lays down for itself one thing but ends up doing something else altogether. It’s uncertain as to whether to make itself come across as a story of survival set within a VRMMORPG or as a fluffy virtual love story. In due course, it decides to juggle with both but doesn’t get either of them rightly done.
Now for those who look for substance in any given story, it’s almost a fact that no amount of fanservice, eye candies, self-insertion or guilty pleasure factors can possibly compensate for a substandard storytelling. Yet that’s what SAO tries to do. It brings in all the aforementioned elements to sugarcoat its sloppy writing. On the whole, there’re no sincere efforts made to incorporate details that would contribute in some way or the other to world building or character development whatsoever. Not to mention, when the situation demands it and the writer goes out of any creative ideas to move the story forward, the characters’ actions are made to contradict the established game mechanics and the only reasoning that’s provided for such miracles is ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way, and there’re times when true love and determination can overcome any obstacle in the game’.
While the poor quality of the writing is the key factor, the other aspect that contributes considerably to the mediocrity of the show is the characterization. Simply put, SAO’s characters are bland and lack subtlety. In essence, SAO has its focus on only two characters: Kirito and Asuna. The others are just there; mere devices to move the story forward. And a few have nothing to contribute to the plot at all. For instance, the ones featuring in the side stories.
Let’s talk about the protagonist Kirito first.
An unsocial, reserved yet headstrong player who knows how to get things done his way and is determined to beat the game. That’s basically how Kirito is portrayed in the beginning. At this point, he seems like a good riddance from the generic wimpy male leads that have become so much of a commonplace in anime. A proficient main character who knows how to deal with things is something refreshing to witness once in a while. Unfortunately, the impressions didn’t last for long. In desperate attempts to make his character more ‘appealing’, Kirito is depicted as a ‘perfect’ being which leaves his character with little plausibility and much insipidity. He’s in essence the embodiment of what most teenage boys desire to be.
He’s a guy with a heart of gold.
He’s always at an advantage.
He can accomplish whatever he wants to with little effort.
He has an ‘ideal’ girlfriend/wife.
He’s admired by those around him.
He can ‘unintentionally’ make every other chick adore him, romantically or otherwise.
Thus, he serves himself as a mere self-insert character for wish fulfilment and at the end of the day, there’s nothing ‘individualistic’ about him. Gary stu is probably what describes his character the best, and if paired with the Mary sue of the show, we get a lead couple that seems to have been cut out straight from a tacky romance fanfiction.
Yes, when I mentioned ‘Mary sue’, I was referring to Asuna.
Asuna as the female lead is as stereotyped as they come. Much like Kirito, her character is heavily idealized. She’s pretty, popular, kind, caring and every other man wants to have a piece of her. Oh, and did I mention her cooking skills that level up with each passing day? After all, her foremost duty is to cook for Kirito and show how much she cares for him. While initially she’s portrayed as a strong, independent female player with a tsundere-ish attitude, it doesn’t take her long to make a transition from that to a deplorable damsel in distress, requiring her knight in black robe to come to her rescue whenever she’s in a bind. Kirito fighting her guild leader to earn her some time for honeymooning is laughable to say the least. It soon becomes apparent that she doesn’t have much of a role other than serving as the love interest of the protagonist and being the object of fanservice now and then which might be successful in pleasing the male audience somehow but that alone can’t make up for her badly written character. In fact, the other female character the show cares to put the spotlight on also ends up becoming the target of fanservice but doesn’t have anything else going on for herself.
If you haven’t guessed it already, I’m talking about Kirito’s beloved imouto.
Throughout the first arc, the writer must have been itching to include a love triangle in the story but couldn’t find a potential candidate. As the first arc comes to a closure and the second arc begins, he grabs the opportunity, puts Asuna behind the bars (so that she’s not an interference in what he’s attempting to do) and introduces Suguha, Kirito’s cousin sister. The sole purpose of creating her character is to make way for a generic love triangle and melodrama. Suguha loves her cousin but can’t do anything about it because he loves Asuna. That’s the bitter truth. Hence, she looks up to a certain someone she happens to befriend within ALO and hopes that he’d be able to sooth her aching heart. However, she gets trolled… badly. This, in turn, leads to more drama that’s somehow supposed to be heart wrenching but it isn’t.
The remaining cast consists of two antagonists, both failing to make any sort of impression though the one making his debut in the second arc can be a good comic relief at times, and a bunch of side characters that wouldn’t have made any difference even if they hadn’t existed. The bottom line is, the characters of SAO are a half-baked lot devoid of any depth or development. They could’ve perhaps turned out to be interesting if they were more fleshed out but who cares about that as long as they appeal to the intended target audience?
Onto the technical aspects now.
In the department of the visuals, A-1 Pictures does a pretty good job. Within the game, the vast tracts of greenery, the beautiful cities during the night, the castles… they’re all a pleasure to behold. The animation is also well-handled for the most part. Initially I wasn’t much pleased with the character designs but they gradually grew on me, and I personally find a few characters like Asuna, Heathcliff and Lisbeth to be very well designed.
The music is composed by one of the most renowned composers in the anime industry, Yuki Kajiura. While the soundtracks aren’t bad by any means, none of them stand out much except the one that plays during combat/intense scenes. In fact, that’s the only track that can be heard playing most of the time in the entire show. A few other tracks, though they aptly fit the scenes they’re played in, are easily forgettable. The same applies to the opening and ending themes. Nothing groundbreaking there. I’m a fan of almost all of Kajiura’s works and if compared to her previous works, SAO’s music is lacklustre to say the least and so much so that it’s hard to believe Kajiura is the composer to begin with.
To wrap up the review, SAO had the potential to be something good but that potential goes down the drain due to poorly executed plot and bland characterization. It starts off in a satisfactory manner but goes downhill thereafter. Nevertheless, it can be an entertaining ride if one keeps their expectations low and swallows down whatever it has to offer without questioning anything. One of the reasons why SAO has been a letdown is the anticipation the majority had for it prior to its airing but that’s justified since the light novel series from which the anime is adapted is one of the most popular ones out there.
Now all that’s left to do is to wait for a second season which is bound to release sooner or later and see how it goes.
Dec 18, 2012
*As spoiler free as can possibly be*
The story is indeed EXTREMELY rushed. While the ideals and thoughts behind the initial plot are absolutely outstanding and completely unique and original, the SAO anime timeline leaves little room for the storyline to blossom. As a 21 year old, I found it fairly childish at times yet still enjoyable. I feel as though younger people wouldn't appreciate the underlying plots which the plot holes failed to fill and give way completely to imagination. As a biased idealist, I give the story an 8/10 because the idea is there, the timeframe wasn't. But I guess that's to be expected in today's anime industry.
The art is visually stunning and appealing. The colors draw the viewer in and the scenery is the hook. The entire landscape of Aincrad is a feast for the eyes. On the flipside, some of the fights scenes were choppily done in comparison to the beauty of the backdrops. The boss details, especially the Skull Reaper, were phenomenal and several shots were created in a very different, unexpected perspective, adding additional interest to the episode's events. So that's an A++++ to colors and imaginary vision and a B to combat scenes to make a 9/10.
Yuki Kajiura. Need I say more? 10/10. Absolutely outstanding and completely relevant and appropriate for the anime. The music truly makes the anime and hooks the viewer emotionally.
Kirito is your typical boy hero destined to save his love interest and destroy a corrupt system. Sure, seems pretty unoriginal. However, I connected to Kirito more than I feel many do. The episodes that seemed like fillers served as ways for us to get to know Kirito and his imperfections and taught us to let them go. While the anime completely fails in terms of side characters with failed attempts of Klein and Egil, the main characters are given enough spotlight to give the viewer a general consensus on their personality, actions, and values toward the Cardinal system of SAO. Asuna is a fantastic heroine at the beginning, immediately winning all the hearts of all male viewers and becoming a role model for young women. But as the anime progresses, the anime took a completely different direction in her character than I expected. While Asuna possessed so much strength and leadership, the anime fails to show this as it continues on, letting her slip into the whole damsel in distress role, especially in ALO. I truly felt the connection between her and Kirito and their desire to protect each other but their characters, as well as their love story, need more depth. 8/10.
I can't lie. I truly enjoy this anime. I have such a vision of it in my head that I feel the storymakers truly intended to get across to all viewers. Whilst the anime is lacking in depth, can be corny/childish/predictable, and is unreally rushed, it provides an entertaining feast for the eyes and ears and even for the heart from episodes 8 and on. I can't deny this one a 10/10 because I truly enjoy it.
I have to give this anime a 10/10 wholly due to the fact that I can truly envision its perfection if it could be given more time. The character ideas are there, the unique and individualistic views are there, the fantastic composer and visual settings are there. It has the correct recipe, but the incorrect "bake time". Putting aside my bias, it should probably deserve a generous 9/10 due to plot holes, rushed timeframe, and incomplete character development.
Here's to hoping episode 25 will be a successful completion of an anime that could truly use a cherry on top of the sundae. The fandom will be on the edge of their seats and...so will I. I can't help it, this anime is my guilty pleasure.
Dec 23, 2012
MMORPGs are the cradle of fond memories for many gamers around the world. Not a single experienced player can talk about the nostalgic hours spent in online games without mentioning the fun time spent slaying monsters for long and restless nights in order to gain exp points. Analysing the economy to get wealthier, or simply working one's fingers to the bone to get some well-deserved money. And what to say of the hardships that were overcome and caused the birth of countless, unfaltering friendships?
Unfortunately, none of this accurately describes Sword Art Online.
Sword Art Online is the respected player-killer that never trained a single night. It is the successful businessman that never invested a single penny. And naturally, the best friend you never actually spent meaningful time with. But remember when you were a child; was there really no game for which the 'Game Over' screen showed up so often you stopped tolerating it? After all, isn't it an unwavering truth that many of us also had fun using one or two cheat codes at times?
– or so would say the author... little did he know, you grew up since that time. But just where is the issue – lack of character development? Certainly not, Sword Art Online has plenty of it. In fact, here lies this anime's downfall: character development just doesn't work when it is expedited. Sword Art Online begins with Kirigaya 'Kirito' Kazuto, and although with a slight advantage at the start, he is much of what one would expect of a normal player. Wouldn't it be a wonderful character development if our protagonist ended up the strongest, wealthiest player, and well-liked to boot?
Well, no. When a character is shown to acquire an astounding amount of money with nothing even hinting at the process that permitted it, this is failing to satisfy even the most basic storytelling conventions. In the same way, the two main characters come to be the server's top players. Was it through hard training? Scarcely. Long trials of stunning difficulty? Nay. The characters became the most powerful players through... time skips. When a mere time skip acts as the trigger for change in a character, no actual merit is achieved, save for perhaps self-insertion, whose interest is akin to the usage of cheat code: insipid and no better than fanfiction writing. And what better way is there to ruin such an interesting premise – the concept of real death in a video game – than making the protagonist so powerful that he never has to face perilous situations?
To use shortcuts in a characterisation is one thing, though; to make it incoherent and disjointed is yet another. And the series manages to achieve both at the same time. Kirito, as the protagonist is called in the game, often experiences sudden and unexplained changes, which are sometimes quickly negated for no better reason. One could remember how Kirito often claims to be a 'solo player' and sometimes is depicted as such, yet is also shown playing with other people for the sole sake of socialising. Or, for example, how he starts out consistently depicted as being reserved and bland for a significant amount of screen time, yet abruptly decided to become a scapegoat and save other players he doesn't know with a remarkable boldness: not only was no psychological justification ever given for the character's change, it was also entirely forgotten in the next episode, following a substantial and convenient time skip – again.
To top it off, the plot suffers from the same flaws as the characterisation. Perhaps even more than the characters in it, in fact, the storyline is riddled with inconsistencies and conveniences. While much of this anime's intended strength should be dramatic impact, the way the drama is woven is frightening. A considerable importance seems to be given to the death of certain characters; where the problem lies, however, is when the characters we should feel for have been introduced less than twenty minutes ago and thus lack heavily in characterisation. It is even worse when the reason of their death amounts to pathetic conveniences: the first death in the series was due to a character refusing a healing potion, even though on the verge of death. Why would he refuse it in the first place, if not to create gratuitous melodrama?
Unsatisfied with delivering half-baked drama, Sword Art Online attempts to provide romance as well. But unsurprisingly, the result is appalling. As ambitious as it seems, no fewer than five romantic relationships are developed, all involving the main character. And while a single relationship could have been a believable part of the plotline, incorporating multiple love interests only harms the focus of the story. Of course, the mere fact that five romantic subplots could coexist is sufficient to destroy any credibility, but they all manage to be disastrous even taken individually. Most of them happen within single episodes; first meeting, confession, and sometimes even death – all within twenty minutes! Naturally, spanning so little time, the only conceivable result was a revolting amount of cliché; can we really take seriously two teenagers that act all lovey-dovey even though this is the first time they met?
But if the writing is poor, perhaps at least the setting is interesting; after all, isn't that synopsis promising? Not even close. Even the worldbuilding is ruined to keep the plot moving forward, in truth. Despite the fact that virtual death is presented as one of the fundamentals of the setting, the one time the protagonist faces death in the game, he is revived (and that is long past the delay after which the audience was told the player's real body should be killed) with no element to account for this miracle. What's more, when about to be killed by the enemy and with no possible cop-out, he is saved by a character who overcomes virtual paralysis... even though no presented means exist in the game mechanics to break free from it.
This is obviously one example of deus ex machina among many. Only a few times has the protagonist needed to overcome difficulties, and every time, he gets away thanks to one of his allies miraculously stepping in. And there's more! Note how Kirito's hacker skills are introduced at the exact time they are needed (and mysteriously thrown away afterwards), or the ridiculous excuse that allowed him to keep his attributes in two unrelated games (now have you ever seen a single MMORPG allowing this?). Consider how the characters conveniently forget they have a teleportation item when ambushed by other players, or how a dead character's ghost conveniently appears to give an item to the protagonist when he is in trouble, even though he could have done that a long time before.
But despite the horrible story, it would be unfair to call Sword Art Online a complete failure. It has, for one thing, a well above average soundtrack, albeit poorly used; moreover, it could be said that the animation fulfils its role somewhat satisfactorily. The tiresome repetition of key tracks could be brought up. One could, maybe, mention the out-of-place CGI, the abuse of still pictures during the fights or the usage of distorted key frames in sequences whose framerate is far too low to afford such visual effects; but that would be picking on minor details. The truth is that Sword Art Online offers solid production values, and above all, it does so consistently.
Any experienced gamer, though, would tell you that graphics alone do not make a game. It is especially true when the rest of the game at hand is an utter mess from start to finish. True, we have a soundtrack that serves its purpose and interesting graphics. Decent longevity as well, but above all a dreadful story and characters that no amount of eye-candy can compensate for.
And all that's left is revolutionary gameplay. Oh wait. read more
Oct 7, 2012
10,000 players are trapped in the virtual world, and they die for real if they die in-game. That's basically it. This concept is the main plot this anime starts off with. From just a glimpse, the story really does seem quite simple and lame, but is actually a very interesting concept. Even though it starts off looking like this will be a survival, adventure type anime....It's not, and I never really expected it be, which allowed me to start off with low expectations with this anime. So Instead, what we got was mainly just time skips of character interactions that give you an episodic feel to it. So is that a bad thing? Well, that’s based on the viewer's opinion. For me personally, I don’t mind it. In fact, once I think about what would actually be shown if they didn’t do time skips, I’m actually glad they decided to do it that way. Well, Even though they just feel like fillers, they aren't. Every episode gives you something important, and contributes to the development. Examples are episode 3, where it shows what happened to make the MC refuse to join any guilds. It was clear that he was against joining a guild to begin with, but it wasn’t until this event that it felt as if he was feeling pain when he joins a guild. At that point, he detested joining a guild enough to make that his punishment for losing a duel. Episode 4, where it shows more about the MC's life in the real world, and having the heroine of that episode make him feel better bymaking him feel more comfortable about his life in the real world, and that what occurred wasn’t supposed to be regrettable. It was also an episode where development of the MC’s “sister” started, prior to her even gaining any screen time (except for a few scenes she appeared in for a couple of seconds in previous episodes). It also talks about game machanics such as beasts and beast tamers. Episodes 5 and 6 are episodes where the main romance just sparked, and continued the development from there. We also learned more about the marriage system. Basically, they are there for explaining game machanics, and develop relationships. These time skips however, really breaks up the development, which gives an impression that characters create relationships with magic. This was one of the main reasons why this anime had so many pacing issues, development problems, and lack of characterization.
Even though these side stories feel out of place, and the characters act differently in many of the episodes, however, these time skips aren’t just a couple of weeks, but rather months. So if a character is depressed, 6 months later, it is unlikely they will still feel depressed, or atleast show signs of depression. An example is the transition from episode 3 to 4. I don't blame the author for taking this kind of approach, since it would be very boring just to watch them grind EXP by killing little creatures and beating each floor 1 by 1. The concept of the story is mainly just an attraction, but underneath, there is as much adventure to it as daily life with weapons, monsters and small quests for the most part. A lot of times in an MMORPG, the main game isn’t an adventure. It is the suspenseful boss fights you have to work hard to prepare for that keeps your heart pounding. It's all about teamwork and society.
When the real plot started, it felt much better. The story just flowed very nicely and allowed us to catch up to where everyone stands at in terms of leveling characteristics. The most legitimate problem with this series is definitely the pacing. At times, the anime rushes through the plot which disorganizes the story and development. Although the pacing was a bit rushed, the only times I really felt annoyed with the pacing were episodes 5, and 6. This was a murder mystery. the mystery itself was not very interesting to watch, and usually mysteries are supposed to be slow paced. With these factors, it just didn't feel normal. I honestly wouldn’t say the time skipping made it feel rushed, but the overall latter of the story and how the conclusion was developed. The rest of the side stories felt fast paced as well, but from the events that happened, it didn’t feel completely abnormal. However, despite how I felt about it, the pacing issues are still present.
Another thing to complain about is how the story revolves heavily around miracles, or in other words “Deus ex Machina”. And example of this is the conclusion, showing us the power of love had the ability to override the program, which if you think about it, it shouldn't. It just appeared to me that the author cornered himself in his own plot, and just came up with that solution as a quick resolve. Other than the pacing problems, and the big focus on miracles, the story is relatively good, but still quite lackluster as it strays away from its own ideals, and basically just turns into an episodic harem anime for a while.
The anime also included other substances within the plot, apart from the whole survival theme. It shows society, and adaption to the new virtual world that players are forced adjust too. When you think about it, this virtual world is just another world similar to that of the previous world they lived in, except more medieval, more limitations, more dangers, and really cool menus. It was a world that players had difficulty adapting to, so they had a strong motivation to leave this death game. When players felt more comfortable in their new society, they begin to sway from their original goals of going back to reality, and accepted this world. Upon their acceptance, people saw that risking their lives to escape the world they took 2 years to adjust to is not worth it, so fewer and fewer players are fighting in the front lines and instead start enjoying their time due to the lack of motivation to escape. People are adjusting to virtual life, and don't have the motivation to leave, but they had forgotten that their real bodies can't last for very long in a hospital bed, and that if they don't escape in time, they will die despite surviving in-game, which gives the feeling that they are fighting against time. This gives an impression of a slight thriller plot, especially since players are starting to lose their motivation to leave, and the existing players are dying off as the number of players in the front lines continue to shrink. They had 15 floors left to clear at this point, and players are all exhausted, and starting to decrease in numbers now that the floors are starting to get harder, with fewer people. Unfortunately, this thriller aspect was somewhat lost from some blatant ass pull that that the anime used during the conclusion. Despite that, the slight thriller aspect was still present, and it relates to real life, how normal people tend to overlook what they can't see with their own eyes. This concept was a background concept that really separated the somewhat lackluster story this anime contained, from others. The anime really should have put more emphasis on this aspect, instead of the harem and romance section so much.
This subject has a lot to talk about, since this anime is based heavily on character interactions. Of course that's understandable because they are trapped in a death game, so players tend to be psychologically unstable, trying to adjust to their forced new life style, and where it is like real life set in medieval times, with more danger. The concept of the story just points in that direction, and not with actual plot or adventure itself. This is the area where this anime gets a lot of hate, along with the story and fast pacing. People were just expecting something different, and the direction this anime was heading was different from what the predicted plot would be.
To start off, we have our MC...Kirito, or his real name; Kirigaya Kazuto. He is basically the most powerful player in the game... well one of them. He is also a solo player, and isn't very social. This is a typical characteristic of MC’s who aren't average high school wimps, perverts or cunts cough* Makoto cough*. The fact that Kirito is pretty much the unstoppable hero who gets all the females, even though the males have a much higher population, is what gets all the hate. I tend to overlook things like this (not the females falling for him even though they have a small population part) because this is just a style of characterization. It doesn’t make it right or wrong, because it could be anyone’s guess on who would like that style. Though a lot of people hate it, there are quite a few who love this self insert character. It isn't a great character trait, but it's sure as hell better than ordinary wimpy protagonists that are present in 80 percent of anime. I personally overlooked it because it had some meaning behind it. When I look at Kirito, I see a very goal oriented person who adapts to situations very easily. This can be proven in episode 1, where he was able to quickly accept and adapt to the terms of the death game, and take advantage of the confusion to get to the good EXP grinding spots. The reason why kirito is so powerful is because of those traits. His goal was always set on surviving, and beating the game. He never swayed from this goal. With this motivation and personality, who wouldn't be extremely powerful? This also made him more efficient in finding good spots during the beta test, while others were still learning to play or just fooling around. He is a solo player, so he doesn't have to share what he earns, and friends don't delay him from his goal. If you have watched the anime, then you would know later on, he does get side tracked after he found love, which slowed down his battle leveling. Instead, he focused on leveling up his fishing ability for the sake of enjoying his time fishing, and living with his wife. This shows the difference between solo and team, and could be one of the factors to why he wanted to be a solo player to begin with.
Another character is Asuna. She is the perfect girl who is like a lot of main heroines in romantic animes. She can do everything. She can cook, she is very strong, she has high leadership skills, and most likely does great in school. This kind of heroine is common, so her traits are predictable, but the reasons are quite logical if what I think is correct. From what I’ve seen of her character, There is a possibility that in the real world, her parents force her to do well in her abilities, so she has always just lived a life of just meeting her parents expectations (just a prediction, I might change that after more is revealed). That would probably explain why she never took the chance to enjoy SAO for what it was, and just thought of it as a death game. If she actually know how to enjoy life, she shouldn't need someone else's help to realize how, and if she actually suffered, she wouldn't be so eager to return to reality. She is very dependent, and always meeting other's expectations can make someone very dependent. Also since her character is quite cliche, and many harem heroines with that kind of perfect personality have that kind of situation. This might also be why the only thing she thought about was to clear the game. Btw, I haven't read the novel, so this is based on my own opinion of the anime. So please don't hate me if I'm wrong. Anyways, Asuna is very powerful. She has made it her primary goal to escape this game, and she worked hard toward that goal. She thinks that she is wasting every day in the SAO world, and losing a day in reality, so she didn't fool around. Her high ranked character is all hard work.
Kirito and Asuna are different characters, and not just two of the most powerful people in the game who happened to be a couple. Kirito has that infamous beater status, so his EXP grinding was advantaged due to him knowing good grinding spots prior to the game’s official release. Also the fact he was a solo player, and how he was striving toward his goal. He got his high leveled character through efficiency, while Asuna just set her goal to clear the game. This just gave her the motivation to work extremely hard for leveling up. She probably worked twice as hard as Kirito, and this was what made her so powerful. This was apparent when she slept for 8 hours as a NAP! She was very tired, and most likely, she must have been grinding EXP for days without rest. Even though these two characters have some background characteristics, as characters themselves, it's still quite obvious that they don't have much of a personality, and are somewhat "dull" as characters themselves. However, watching them interact is still quite enjoyable at times.
The romance wasn't bad. Kirito taught Asuna the real meaning of life, and it was apparent that she did not know how to enjoy life, judging from her goals and how she was playing SAO. Usually, over time people will adapt to the new world and start enjoying life, but Asuna needed kirito to teach her that, which was proven by Asuna's speech in episode 13. From there onwards after being on the front lines together for 2 YEARS(They weren’t separated for a whole year during the side stories, they were battling on the front lines the whole time, but was not shown often. Some people had mistaken that), fighting in near death experiences, the romance had a reason to develop, but despite that, the development was very fast paced. The romance also feels a little cheesy at times.
Other characters such as Sachi, Silica, klein, lizbeth etc, were also great. Sachi pretty much felt comfortable with Kirito. She knew that death was completely random in this game, if you are a weak player. That’s how she knew she would eventually die. After Kirito comforted her during her times of fear, it seemed she began to feel more and more comfortable around him, as if he was always there to protect her. Once she found his real level, she felt even safer. Over time. With the feeling of comfort with him, she began to feel happier with Kirito, so she feared less of death, but still had that subconscious mind tell her she would die. Sachi also makes kirito feel more comfortable in his first time in a guild, and so the two gradually developed a very comforting relationship. Sachi probably developed a little feelings for Kirito, though I didn't feel she liked him that much. Despite that, it's still hard to think that she isn't harem bait for Kirito. Her development was quite lacking, due to her only being in one episode, but it was enough to feel a little surprised. Though more development would have been better.
Silica relieved Kirito of his guilt from reality, while kirito comforted her when she was in her worst state. She lost her guild, her pet, she almost died, and she was all alone, but kirito showed up and gave her someone she could rely on, when she was in a very bad situation. So I understand her having a crush on him. She is also still young, so she is still unfamiliar with that feeling. Again, she was only in one episode, so her development wasn't great.
Lisbeth's development was very fast I must say, but being in a near death situation, and surviving through the night the way they did, must have created a heart pounding experience. The heart pounding and the adventure probably added to the fast development of her feelings. Falling in love in 1 day still does feel a bit out of place, though considering the situation they were in, I can understand that. If they pulled a" love at first sight" tactic, that would probably be much worse. Still only showed up in one episode like the others, plus a few screen times in other episodes.
There were a lot of side stories present in this anime, and each of them had a new girl that was likely to be added to kirito's harem. There are still more characters present in this anime, such as Klein and Egil, but they weren't a big part of the story. The real focus was on the two main characters, which were kirito and Asuna. The side characters were pushed off to the side primarily after their side story was over. This really left a lot to be desired from them, as it felt like they were there just as filler. Despite that, the characters aren't necessarily the best points for this anime, but still doable.
The art is very good. I love the fight scenes, WHEN THERE ACTUALLY ARE FIGHT SCENES! Most of the fights are screenshots which take away the epicness of the fight. I've seen the potential of their animated fight scenes, so I was a bit disappointed. Also, some of the background scenery seems to be pretty much motionless. Sometimes characters in the background don't move, and just look like wallpaper, but that doesn’t happen much. There are also rare instances where the art looked sketchy, like in episode 9, when kirito and Asuna were running from the boss room. Despite these nit-picks, the animation is very good.
AMAZING. The soundtracks are very good, and really fit well with the anime. They give off this medieval setting, which fit perfectly with the scenes. yuki kajiura has done a great job with this anime as well, but still lacking compared to her other works. The soundtracks fit very well with each scene, but weren't quite as memorable, except for the main theme that plays during each battle. Even thought they weren't as good as her previous works, that doesn't mean i didn't enjoy the hell out of listening to them. The OP is very catchy and nice. LiSA had a very good performance in the OP. The ED is also good, and gives off this nice gentle ending during the conclusion of the episodes. The voice acting in general is also great. I especially love the work from Matsuoka Yoshitsugu, who voices kirito. He has gained a lot of respect from me.
Overall, I enjoyed the anime. I don't know, I might be shifted toward the fanboy side, so probably that affected the quality of my review, but that doesn't change the fact that I enjoyed SAO more than some others. I just think people are watching this show for the wrong reasons, and hating isn’t really the way to go. I find it entirely illogical to continue watching a series you dislike, just to complain about it. Same goes for liking the show, then rejecting any sort of negative comment, then throwing a temper due to it. Otherwise known as being a "fanboy". It's hard to deny that this series has many faults, despite personal preference. I think that animes are just meant to be enjoyed. Being a hater or fanboy just defeats the true purpose of what it was actually intended for, which is entertainment. And for studios, making money....which has nothing to do with what I said. People just throwing the words "fanboy" and "hater" around like candy is just silly, and flaming is also quite stupid. This review was all my opinion, so if you don't agree with me, that's fine, but fighting over disagreement is just silly. But I guess that's to be expected from an anime with immense hype that failed to deliver what many expected. I personally didn't enter with high expectations, so I actually found myself enjoying this anime. For me, enjoyment is probably the biggest factor of my score, since I don't usually rate things analytically too much. Despite my complaints, the reason my score is quite high is mainly due to my enjoyment factor, so it's quite hard to say I'm not being biased. Anyways, the only complaints I have were the pacing issues and a little rushed development, deus ex machina, harem plot, side stories, and some other things. Also some plot holes like how pain can't be felt, yet they still scream as if they feel pain.
So here are the main points of this review for those who like to skip to the end and read the summary like faggots (just kidding):
+great story concept (in the beginning)
+great side plot
+Logical character actions
+somewhat likeable characters (my opinion)
+surpassed my low expectations
-pacing issues ( didn't bother me too much)
-side story episodes feel a little out of place (doesn't bother me too much)
-some rushed development
-still image fight scenes
-Deus Ex Machina
-characters aren't very deep
-Time goes by too quickly :(
Well, that's my review. I hoped you enjoyed it ^_^ read more
May 4, 2013
The premise was a somewhat generic one, but SAO seemed promising. And then the plot did everything wrong. It utilizes time skips to avoid character development and many important events happen off screen and aren't ever mentioned again or explained. Once Kirito was in a seemingly impossible to escape situation, but it just skipped to after he survived without ever explaining how he managed it. Because, I guess, that's not as important as filler episodes about Kirito resurrecting some irrelevant chick's bird thingy.
It lacks any amount of tension due to the main character having invincible plot armor and LE EPIC DUBBLE SWORDZ. I'm confused by the point of the double swords. Why was that his special thing? No one else was capable of putting another sword in their other hand? I mean, Jesus, if you're going to give the main character an overpowered weapon at least be creative. The funny thing is that although dual wielding was supposed to be Kirito's unique ability and this idea was drilled into our minds time and time again, other characters are shown dual wielding on several occasions. They seriously put no effort into this series.
The worst part was how rushed it was. The first half of the series was full of episodic filler episodes which did not develop the plot and mostly featured episodes about random women falling in love with the blank slate of a main and episodes centered on the uninspired romance between the two main characters.
Despite the supposed danger of the game, it seems like you would have to be a complete moron to get killed. Towns are safe, there's teleportation crystals, and boss fights were short and boring and easy. Besides, bosses don't respawn anyway. Then all of a sudden the arc came to an anticlimactic finish, illogically and out of nowhere. There was supposed to be 100 boss battles, but we're only shown a couple that are settled easily. But does SAO stop there? Nonono. It's not nearly bad enough yet.
The entire point of the series was an MMO where you couldn’t escape and would die if you lost. While Kirito is, for all practical purposes, invincible anyway, an incident occurs that makes the MMO even less dangerous, effectively killing any kind of promise the original premise had. The second half features even more girls falling for our boring protagonist, a spindly 16 year old gamer inexplicably overpowering a grown man, netorare, kind of-incest, almost-tentacle rape, a world without logic, the degradation of women, and our wonderful protagonist defying all the rules of the game with THE ETERNAL POWER OF LOOOOOVE.
(dude I don't think that's how the programming works)
Chock full with plot holes, contradictions, deus ex machina, and diaboli ex machina, and devoid of foreshadowing, originality, or subtlety, this is one of the, if not the, worst plots I have ever encountered in any medium. And I've read "120 Days of Sodom."
Good scenery, but the character design was lacking. The characters were generic looking and their armor and weapons weren't anything special. There were several atrocities as well.
All of the fairies looked stupid, in my humble opinion. Especially the scary butterfly man. There were a couple instances of obvious mistakes like characters that should be in the background of a fight that disappear then reappear after, but that's nitpicking compared to the real problems with this series.
One weird thing was that Kirito was apparently supposed to look different in the game than he was in real life, based on important un-spoilable plot elements, but he looks exactly the same.
Same as the art. It's alright, but that means nothing if the series has no substance. Good sound is just icing on the cake and icing won't make this cake taste any less like shit.
Oh, boy. This is the worst part.
Kirito: Kirito is a character who was designed as a blank slate so that losers would insert themselves into his place. He has no personality to speak of. His only unique trait or real aspect to his character is him being strong. Really. He's so strong people surrender to him without even fighting. He’s pretty much perfect. I mean, only a couple times in the series is he actually challenged because he is an all powerful 1337 b34t3r. Seriously, most of his enemies only hate him because they’re jealous.
What's the point of an action series where the protagonist easily cuts through all of his enemies? There was more than one occasion where he died, but did not die because plot armor. Kirito is too cool for the silly rules of (virtual) reality that apply to everyone besides him.
Asuna: She's perfect as well. She's strong, beautiful, and most importantly, good at cooking. She falls in love with Kirito inexplicably and out of nowhere and they just have no chemistry. When you pair a Mary sue up with a blank slate/self-insertion you get a love story on the level of twilight.
I feel like the writers were trying to make her a strong female character at first, but seeing as how well she fits the female gender role, how often she must be the damsel in distress, and all the shameless fanservice, I'd say the portrayal of her character was archetypal to the highest degree and somewhat misogynistic. Ok, very misogynistic. She’s mostly here for Kirito to look cool. What kind of self-insert doesn’t have a Mary sue girlfriend?
Suguha: She's Kirito's sister-cousin thingy. She's clearly very stupid because she did not recognize Kirito even though he looks no different in the game than he does in real life. All I can say about her besides that is this: she was thrown in for extra fanservice, obligatory incest, a half-assed and predictable love triangle, and for another girl to love Kirito because, hey, you can never have too many. She has no personality and she's annoying. She’s pretty much here to emphasize Kirito’s coolness.
Villains: I don't remember these guys’s names tbh. There was a MMO designer guy who was responsible for a bunch of people's deaths, but for some reason we're supposed to think is good. There's also the butterfly guy. He was my favorite because he was so hilarious, but he was also my least favorite because he was the least threatening villain ever. There were also two purple tentacle guys. I don't really know who they are and I think they were just there to grope Asuna, but they were weird.
As a whole the villains either have unrealistic motives or no motives at all. With the original programmer guy they try to make a morally grey villain, but fail entirely. He is also there to make Kirito look cool, but for reasons that I cannot describe in a spoiler-free review. With butterfly man they make him too pathetic and unrealistically evil. He was made like this to contrast with Kirito and so, like everybody else in the series, he’s just there to make Kirito look cool. And I don't know wtf to say about the purple tentacle guys. They were probably the best villains though. The desire to tentacle rape is certainly the most believable motive I encountered in this anime, especially seeing as most characters never even offered one. Although that is like saying that they are the undisputed champions of the Special Olympics, congrats to them anyways.
Honestly there were a lot more antagonists, but these ones are the only ones that matter enough to me to write about. The others weren't memorable enough to criticize. They were all bad, let's just say that.
Everybody else: Because nobody else matters. Hell, I just put in Suguha to be nice and it's not like the villains actually matter because Kirito is pretty much invincible. Shit, Asuna only matters because she pleases Kirito. If Asuna didn't make such boss sandwiches, she wouldn't even be relevant to the story.
There are a couple recurring characters with no personality and no development, but they show up rarely and only to make Kirito look cool and/or fall in love with him.
There are several incidents where Kirito inexplicably befriends or makes acquaintance of characters devoid of personality who do nothing, but get killed. And then we're supposed to care about the death of these random characters. You can't just introduce random characters, kill them, and say "ohhhh dey died isnt dat saaaad." You need development.
Even worse is the thousands of unidentified characters that die early on in SAO. We're supposed to feel emotion about this, but any writer knows that reducing characters to mere numbers dehumanizes them thus removing all emotion from the equation. They probably skipped these scenes because they were incapable of making sympathetic and realistic character. This laziness and lack of ability foreshadowed the fate of the rest of the show's characters.
Did they even try? Of course they didn't. They don't have to and people will love it anyway. ALL ABOARD THE HYPE TRAIN.
I'm going to be honest: The most enjoyment I got out of this anime was laughing at the "serious" scenes. When Kirito introduced Asuna, in real life, as "lightning flash Asuna" and talked about her guild and power level, I seriously cried from laughter. Actually every time Kirito cried so did I. Just not in the way I think I was supposed to. I spat out my iced tea when the butterfly guy was licking agirlwhowillnnotbenamedforthesakeofnospoilers's face. That was too much. Seriously, it stained my shirt.
Hmmm. I'm not sure how anybody would enjoy the action scenes and I certainly did not. They were all too easy. There were a couple times when it tried to make it look like he was in trouble, but lo and behold, some miracle happened every time. Knowing how the fight will end is an unfortunate situation in plenty of anime, but those anime at least have more creative fight scenes and abilities or they are character oriented anyway. Even runescape has better and more interesting fights than this MMO.
Besides the quality, there were quantity issues as well. This isn't really an action anime. The majority of the episodes were focused on Kirito saving Asuna from something, women falling in love with Kirito, or about Kirito and Asuna's boring relationship. I don't think there's a single episode that's "action-packed." Seeing as we were supposed to get 100 boss fights, this is a problem and it would be a let down, but after a hundred of those dreary fights I think I would die of boredom.
The romance was just bad. There's much better romance out there and the characters had no chemistry. I'd prefer a romance with characters who are actually intriguing. Also, most anime focus on the build-up of the relationship a lot, but here it happens right away and there's no time to enjoy anything. This wouldn't be that bad if their relationship was interesting, but they don't have any serious arguments and are essentially the perfect couple. The only enjoyable developments in their relationship were the ones where Asuna was in danger. And by "enjoyable developments" I mean "developments that made Kirito cry like a little girl." They were still awful, but comparatively speaking, they were enjoyable.
This is not an anime that I would recommend to anyone. I wouldn't even recommend it to my worst enemy. That is cruelty of which I am not capable. It was atrocious, infuriating, corny, cliché, contrived, horrid, purple tentacled, pseudo-incestuous, borderline-misogynistic, plebeian, an affront to mankind, unintelligent, crafted by the devil, a war on art, used to torture terrorists, bourgeois, anti-intellectual, inbred, languid, shallow, self-insertionly, corny, the antithesis of Dostoevsky, the apotheosis of awful fiction, blank, infantile, pathetic, vacuous, vapid, salacious, inane, imbecilic, an abortion, Stygian, sub-par, bland, poorly thought out, corny, vomit-inducing, virulent, bile, poorly executed, a capon, infernal, eviscerating, flippant, an insult to its audience, cadaverous, philistine, lame, sad in all the wrong ways, funny in all the wrong ways, painful, paint-drying, boner-killing, wretched, impotent, generic, unemotional, repetitive, redundant, boring, and corny.
Nov 3, 2012
First and foremost, the Sword Art Online TV Series is an adaptation of the light novels under the same name. People who have witnessed this pattern unfold before know the difficulties in the adaptation process. For those of you new to the community, when a studio announces an adaptation it usually means two things: fan service, and fillers. Sword Art Online is a perfect victim for the studios these days that desire the big bucks. What derived from a romantic, unique concept was transformed into an utter construction of unoriginality and clichés.
Other words, all the significant features residing in the original light novels were compacted down into seemingly unimportant bits and the wrong things got emphasized.
= Story (3) =
What the studios completely ignore first is the purity of the story, scripts, and chronological order of events. It doesn't even matter to the producers if positive/negative attention is given to Sword Art Online as long as the work gains popularity, discussions, and trends. Well, if you just watch anime collectively and only for enjoyment, it doesn't matter too much if the dialogues sound cheesy or unrealistic. However, there are too many clichéd story narratives, the dialogues require better writing, and [insert more heedless blobs of complaints you can read elsewhere].
The premise and first half of Sword Art Online actually poses an intriguing concept of survival of the fittest, which just isn't elaborated on enough to continuously track the audience's attention. In the actual light novel, there's much more emphasis on action-based themes than what's presented in the anime. Execution of the script definitely has problems, the pacing embodies inconsistencies which could've improved, and the story does contain some questionable timeline eclipses. However, it wouldn't exactly be the source material's fault if a parody of their work is bad.
= Character (5) =
The main protagonist Kirito and his companion Asuna both illustrate essentially perfect beings. Kirito is a beater whose masculinity cannot be touched by anyone vincible. Comparatively, Asuna strives for a taint of sexiness with her slender yet untouchable body, and she can cook perfectly--somewhat misogynistic but inevitable. As a couple, Kirito and Asuna are both interesting subjects due to their fair share of intimate interactions with each other and other characters at first.
However, the chemistry between the two main romance interests, in the anime, quickly devolves into little or none at all. Events are laid out too bluntly, at a false pace, and Kirito's dedication for Asuna appears to be more artificial than in the light novels. Asuna became a target for fan service and though the appearance for fan service itself isn't exactly a terrible thing, the problem resides with how they applied that to more females. What shouldn't have processed through as a harem became apparent. Instead of illustrating the chemistry between Asuna and Kirito wholeheartedly, the Series often diverted with several unrelated (female) story arcs, which in turn didn't contribute to much of Kirito's phlegmatic personality anyways.
The main problem with the side characters is that barely any time is spent on them and most of them don't really have a purpose after their first appearance. Even when they do, you don't remember their names or why their presence is significant.
= Animation (8)/Sound (9) =
It's almost factual that nobody can complain about the artistic aspects of Sword Art Online. The impacting action scenes did themselves justice with intense atmospheres. Character designs transported from the light novels comprised of more details and it is overall fitting. Noticeably, the background in some of the scenes portrays a vivid, limitless sky, which soothingly befits the floating island setting.
The Original Sound Tracks from the anime are just fine. Although it would've been better to switch around its soundtracks, the synchronization of music with the art worked out efficiently. Both the Ops & EDs consisted of scores beautifully done by the artist; Yuki Kajiura strikes the mood perfectly yet again. Each voice acting roles also surprisingly resembled their character's traits.
= Enjoyment (6) =
Admittedly, Sword Art Online was a guilty pleasure the day it aired each week despite its flaws. The premise alone embraced me in a MMORPG setting which many have nostalgia for. Although a bit romanticized, the production actually portrayed the prehistoric Medieval Europe (in this case) and flourishing civilization of many cities like Venice at the time fairly well. And those familiar with the time period knows Sword Art Online just added another layer of wistfulness.
Honestly, Sword Art Online provides decent entertainment if you watch it playfully without expecting serious, satirical works of some sort. Otherwise, it may be a disaster if you end up taking the concepts the show throws at you too literally.
= Overall (5) =
A well thought-out premise and concept which ended up being jammed into a catastrophic adaptation—basic outline of Sword Art Online. It's really a shame that an action-packed Light Novel franchise became a victim of today's failing anime industry. This TV series comprises of lots of story arcs which should've been ignored, but was instead included due to their rewarding of pure fan service.
There are too many trickled-down, mixed lighthearted scenes for someone to take the anime too seriously. Yet, the producer of the anime almost expects you to nonsensically. In the end, it's up to the audience to take Sword Online seriously or not. For one's health, I suggest viewing this TV Series as a romantic comedy with quirky action scenes and supernatural settings. Otherwise, for the real action-packed themes promised by the premise, I guarantee that the Light Novels will present a much better experience than this "once-in-a-lifetime" plebeian anime adaptation. read more
Sep 17, 2012
Ill admit, the pacing of the story initially shocked me. The sense of time passing through this story seems rapid and jumps without warning at the beginning of each episode. However this can be forgiven as the first few episodes of every anime is set mainly to develop a stable environment in order for the main story to begin. Although half of the episodes so far are used to develop a "harem", none of the characters stick to him like glue and each of their relationships reflect a key problem in this virtual world.
Because of the rushed story, the character development is equally afflicted. The build up of power and sense of progression that we see in mainstream anime titles such as Naruto and One Piece are skipped, leaving a sense of disappointment. This is partly due to the original author of the light novel series in which this anime is adapted from which skips to stage 74/100 of the game. To be honest, from a more personal view I am quite content at this kind of structure, with the side stories creating the setting, followed up by diving into the romantic aspect of the anime. The characters themselves are likable and they creators try to avoid the obvious stereotypes by adding slight complexities to their characters.
The animation and musical choice were appropriate to say the least. They did not stand out too much but the artwork style fitted in with the context of the story although some of the animations could have been a lot smoother. The music however was executed perfectly. I could have sworn I had heard a few melodies from the long lost games in the past because they just seemed so generic. This of course is a positive factor and helps make the world of Aincrad more realistic as a game.
The beauty of this story is not drawn from the characters, story, art or sound but it is the clear presentation of a fantastic virtual world. The onset of nostalgia which many will experience is an alluring factor, but the introduction to this new world and it's system is so clearly explained, one does not have to have experienced previous MMORPG to fully enjoy this series. SAO plays on our dreams and fantasies while at the same time question the obsessive nature of games and whether our actions in games reflect upon real world situations as well. Truly a unique mix of sci-fi and fantasy with an overwhelming romantic theme.
*Just because I am not experienced with reviews nor have I watched too many anime titles I am not afraid to give this anime a 9 which I believe it deserves read more
Jul 17, 2012
The Good: Man, they really went for a lot here. The light novels themselves were actually more action/adventure focused, something that doesn’t happen in the anime. I’m going to do my best not to give any spoilers, but essentially, the anime Sword Art Online aims to be a love story of epic proportions, where their relationship will experience highs and lows ranging from boundless joy to aching tragedy. Straight up, if you don’t like the main characters, you probably won’t like this anime. That’s how most love stories work. However, if you’re like me, and you absolutely adore the main characters, then this anime is definitely for you! Sword Art Online additionally does a brilliant job of easing us in to the massive, awe-inspiring frontier that is Aincrad. The concept of this anime -- being trapped in a strange, exotic new world and living in it -- is a dream that we all have had at one point, and it's fascinating to see it being unveiled before our eyes.
The Bad: At the same time, however, the execution has been done terribly. Lots of fans/first-time watchers – me included – felt that Kirito and Asuna were not given nearly enough character development. It’s hard to root for someone that you barely know or hate. Another problem lies in the pace. The side stories were rushed, no doubt about, which is bad because they offered interesting insights into Kirito and Asuna’s relationship and personality. At the same time, you can't really justify having two episodes of precious anime time being given to the side stories, and they honestly aren't as interesting as the main plot. Something else that irks me about Sword Art Online is how it suffers from deus ex machina. That is, it'll solve really big situations with just dumb stuff like "it's the power of love" or "strength of will trumps everything". However, other amazing shows (Harry Potter, Clannad) have done similar things, so it's whatever.
CONSENSUS: 7/10. Sword Art Online attempted to create a love story of epic proportions…something that they partially succeeded in. Although they eased us in beautifully in the start, undeveloped characters, a rushed storyline, and miracle syndrome make it lose quite a bit of its impact.
The artwork in this anime can be summed up into one word: inconsistent. The sceneries are drawn very well and have a wide variety (ranging from icy snowcaps to flowery meadows to beautiful cities…), and the characters are done beautifully (a nice contrast to the stupid body proportions in Code Geass or the crazy facial expressions in Fate/Zero), but it gets stupidly bad during the battles. For some strange reason, instead of treating us to a smooth action sequence, we instead constantly gaze at character still shots. It’s really frustrating when you know that the battle sequences could have been amazing!! Background animation is probably the most inconsistent part in that it gets really bad in towns but great in landscapes. I really don’t know what to think. I think the animation of this anime is something that really sets it back from some of the great animes, and I’m hoping it gets better in the future (especially the battle scenes, they can really make those a lot more enjoyable to wach).
CONSENSUS: 7/10. Battle scenes are very badly animated, and backgrounds sometimes are drawn very sloppily. However, the sheer scope of sceneries in this anime is a delight to see.
The music is incredible. Yuki Kajiura is one of the biggest names in anime music, and her music is absolutely astounding. So far, the music’s been perfect and set each mood beautifully. In particular, the battle scene music. Oh my god. I found myself humming it when I was eating breakfast, just a testament to how well done it is. As for the OP/ED, they’re really generic. They’re being done by LiSa, who’s done so many OP/EDs by now, but they don’t really stand out…in a good or bad way. I don’t know, I think Yuki Kajiura’s music makes up for any disparities here though.
CONSENSUS: 9/10, Music is great and going to be developed by Yuki Kajiura, the person who did Fate/Zero and Madoka Magica. OP/ED are generic, but that’s not a bad thing.
The characters are ridiculously hit or miss. Kirito is pretty much your perfect, flawless teenager. That’s going to be a deal breaker for many of people upon knowing that. Many people like their protagonists to have flaws, to be more humanlike, more down to Earth, and having a character that’s flawless frankly drops a lot of the realism. I would like to argue that the alternative of having a whiny protagonist that doesn’t do anything is a lot worse though (Guilty Crown, I’m looking at you). The same lies for the female protagonist, Asuna, our main character’s love interest. Frankly, the relationship just came together too easily. Asuna also has the privilege of being practically perfect in every single way. No really: she can cook, she’s incredibly beautiful, she’s good at swordfighting, she’s dedicated, and she’s a tsundere (personally I love tsunderes). The side characters and the villains lack depth as well. Can anyone else picture how much more interesting this anime would have gotten if Sugou was initially some good guy that Asuna begins to fall for...only to be someone rotten in the inside? Instead, we're treated to a generic villain who literally doesn't have a single good quality.
CONSENSUS: 6/10, Main character Kirito isn’t absurdly annoying like A LOT of other main characters, but he does get what he wants a little too easily. Side characters are overly generic and get far too little time. Same with Kirito and Asuna, we needed more time for their development!
THE BREAKDOWN: It's a great anime if you like Kirito and Asuna, but if you don't, you might as well watch another anime. The anime itself suffers from various flaws -- plot holes, shoddy animation, undeveloped characters -- that prevent me from giving it a high score. Still worth a watch though, if only so that you can rant about how good or bad it is on the forums after each episode. 7/10!
(+) The light novel for this anime is incredibly well done (#1 rated light novel on MAL).
(+) Incredible nostalgia for any MMORPG gamers.
(+) Music is stellar, designed by the best.
(+) Anime gets a lot better after episode 8.
(+) The landscapes are absolutely beautiful...one of the benefits of making the anime set in a fantasy video game.
(+) Tons of people to discuss this anime with since it's popular; since it's polarizing, you get some very interesting arguments too.
(−) Characters not developed thoroughly enough.
(−) Anime may be rushed in first few episodes.
(−) Suffers from very poor animation in some the fight scenes and in the background (budgeting).
(−) Insertion of side stories before main plot may cause some viewers to lose interest.
(−) Anime suffers from miracle syndrome (occasionally will solve problems with a miracle).
(−) Causes you to waste time talking with people about the latest episode of SAO, whether you hate it or love it. read more
May 16, 2013
Produced by A-1 Pictures
Review from my POV (w/ personal biases)
(Sp)oiler level: Meduim
PROS/what I liked:
+ That 1st Theme song is pretty FN cool. LiSA knows how to pump a show up.
+ The animation for the most part was consistent with it's smooth flow (hair waving, action sequences, running, etc.)
+ (personal) the concept may be old (Main dude plays VRMMO. Dude and everyone else is trapped in it. Beat the game to be free and stuff) but it would be my first time being used in an anime.
+ The first 2 episodes made this show looked very promising............
CONS/what I disliked/hated:
- ....... The rest of the series (23 ep) ranges from "meh" to borderline "unwatchable"
- (Sp) this show would feel more cohesive if level 40+ Kirito cared a bit more about completing the SAO mission. but nah, he just dicks around the lower levels, slowly making his own harem as the episodes go by.
- Romance element was too "Tween-y" for me.
- (Sp) "Mama" "Papa"? WTF is this? Can i please have an A.I. w/o feelings?
- ALO arc loses the danger from the 1st half. At this point, the whole story is 100% emotional driven (which isn't good cause i don't like ANYONE at this point)
- Leafa/Sugu's whole existence is irrelevant to Kirito's ALO mission and becomes a waste of time
- The fanservice in here is insulting.
- (Sp) the last scene of the show involving Kirito's avatar makes almost no sense.
Trust me, this shit's overhyped. The 1st Arc's concept is cool, only to be shitted on with feelings and the 2nd Arc is............. i dont even know.
Consider a must see? - no read more
Apr 21, 2013
The story for SAO started out very strong. The concept of SAO was similar to the .Hack series, except SAO would hopefully have less talking. Being trapped in a virtual reality MMO where if you die in the game you die in real life is basically ever nerds dream. Imagine a virtual reality Skyrim, except the game is extremely difficult and 200 out of the 10,000 players die on the first boss dungeon. However, the story has massive time skips which prevents from establishing a true sense of fear. Everyone adjusts to Sword Art Online almost instantaneously because of the time skips. It also leads to bad character development, but I'll get into that later. The story gets kicked in the teeth in the second half as if the first half was just a prologue, not to mention it wasn't nearly as good as the first half's story. 6/10
The animation in SAO is actually very good. Animated by A1-Pictures, who previously have done such anime as Ao No Exorcist and Fairy Tail, have done a very good job with this anime. Every frame is detailed with great lighting, and the action is fast paced and runs at a consistent frame-rate. I think my favorite fight scene was in episode 9, when Kirito, the main character, was fighting the 74th boss, Gleam Eyes, and he pulled a trick out of his ass. That was a very well animated fight. However, the animation in the 2nd half is not as good. It's still good, but not as good as the first half. If the animation were consistently good, it would get a 9. But no. It got an 8. 8/10
The OST of this anime was composed by Yuki Kajiura. Yuki Kajiura has fame from such anime as Fate/Zero and Madoka Magica. The music in SAO was very well constructed, with the battle theme being one of my favorites. I also liked the song "Fight!", as it reminded me of the beautiful M12 + 13 from Kara no Kyoukai, another one of Kajiura's works. There's really nothing else to say other than it's great.
And here's where SAO took a giant dump on itself. Because of the aforementioned time skips, the characters have no time to develop, especially the main character Kirito. The most I got out of him was that he's a badass dude who wears black clothes and plays solo and can win any match. Notice that he plays solo, which any MMO player can tell you is never a good idea. I play Monster Hunter, which isn't exactly an MMO, but it's still fairly similar. I can't even beat any of the bosses without help from a friend online, and that's what made the 2nd episode of SAO so great. He had help from the female lead, Asuna, to kill the first boss. After that he gets black clothes and suddenly he can beat even a dragon by himself. Speaking of Asuna, she's not much better than Kirito. She's introduced as an awesome character in Episode 2, but then she just turns into a tsundere (person, mainly female, who shuns a protagonist before getting to know the person and she lightens up and becomes a love interest) who got no character development because of the time skips. Same with Kirito and Asuna's love for each other. In episode 10, they get married, which is great. The only problem is that in episode 2, it was 2022. In episode 10, it was 2024. Asuna was also shoved out of the spotlight so the side characters can come in and be there for ONE EPISODE. You can imagine why this kind of love interest is bad. It gets even worse in Season 2, when Asuna goes and a new girl protagonist is introduced. She's even worse than Asuna. 4/10
I think SAO had SO MUCH WASTED POTENTIAL. It could have been a fantasy epic set in an inescapable virtual world, like Fate/Zero in World of Warcraft. But the story and characters marred it so much that it's almost unbearable to watch. SAO gets a 4/10. read more
Dec 23, 2012
With that said, SAO is a fantastic piece of work considering how the author was only a high school student at the time, and how he ventured into previously unexplored territory. The author and the subsequent adaptation by A1 pictures successfully manages to impress the intended audience; the teenage market. This is done through a careful blend of adventure, cliffhangers , pacing, deux es machinas and a good cast of girls.
The show starts off with a highly interesting premise with players in a perfectly modelled virtual reality. Since their consciousness is surrendered to the NervGear hardware, the only way to return to the real world is through the “Log Out” button which has unfortunately gone walkies. We follow the life events of our protagonist, Kirito as he battles his way through his ups and downs, which is not limited to fighting.
Kirito also faces a daunting challenge emotionally, as the stakes are exceptionally high. A death in-game equates to death in real life. These obstacles flesh out the human nature of Kirito’s character in great detail. His behaviour, emotions and actions are closely related to his recent happenings and experiences. Kirito starts off as a social recluse who prefers to limit his interactions with other people. This leads him to shun the cooperative nature of MMORPGs and plays solo. Through a chance encounter, Kirito manages to befriend a group and re-learn the significance of friendship and comradeship, and how that improves his mental well-being. This does not lead to the unrealistic result of Kirito becoming instantly socially adept, as he faces further obstacles and setbacks that push him back to his reclusive old self. Such flaws truly show that Kirito is simply a mere mortal with variable emotions and feelings, which serves to connect with the viewer with empathy. For Kirito is only the strongest player in SAO due to his effort and research, rather than simply being perfect. Only through real experience can Kirito grow as a person, and the growth is closely tied in with the story.
A1 Pictures is to be commended for only highlighting the most significant parts of Kirito’s story as he fights to clear the game. Thousands of hours of level-grinding which was normal in the Everquest era of 2002 (when SAO was written) has given way to achievement caps relating to the hours you play in a day in 2012 (when SAO was adapted). To put it in simpler terms, the firms that make MMORPGs implementing such caps means the community has democratically voted with their wallets that level grinding is far too troublesome and boring.
We are therefore treated to relevant side stories instead of level-grinding filler. Each of these side stories involves an encounter with a supporting cast with wide variations in personalities and nature of the quest. Through the use of variety in the story, not only do we get to see Kirito develop, but also the world. The viewer is introduced to the world of MMORPGs involving Guilds, Raids, Smithing, Conspiracy and even a compelling virtual romance that becomes the foundation of a timely rejuvenation of Kirito’s character. Relationships however, are a two-way street and Asuna’s (the main heroine and Kirito’s girlfriend) worldview is also seamlessly influenced, and improved. The two-way nature of the relationship really makes it convincing, and leaves a lasting impression. The end product is an Asuna, despite her obvious flaws as a human, becomes a character whom many would look up to, due to her dedicated and faithful nature that was born out of hardship.
All of the above really shows that the writers performed an exceptional job. The accurate portrayal of the fickle nature of human emotions, and especially during the tumultuous years of adolescence really brings the show to life. The level of language, and the tones used by the voice actors were highly appropriate. They successfully avoid Kirito sounding like an aged professor with a PhD in SAO, and a realistic mix of rational decision making and emotionally-charged angst is used.
The quality of writing continues with the way the villains are portrayed. The first major villain, Kayaba is an accurate rendition of the genius, lost in his own world, which he seeked to control. He is the prime example of a person termed as a sociopath. The best aspect of him however is not his character itself, but the way he integrated himself into the storyline, and produced the most unexpected plot twist. This twist is a very crafty, and convincing one due to it being totally out of the blue yet in hindsight, perfectly plausible.
The second villain, Sugou on the other hand, is the purest example of a villain in recent times. Villains are meant to be bad, but not all can be successful at being bad and unique at the same time. A recent, highly successful example to compare is Raoul Silva, the highly-acclaimed villain in James Bond’s Skyfall. Not only was Silva bad, he was amusingly bad and obviously received pleasure from just being plain ‘badass’. In SAO, Sugou betters Silva by not only bringing amusement, but also the purest feeling of disgust against the character. In essence, Sugou is the victim of his own success, and the show goes to great extent by detailing his personality and motives. The icing on the cake is when Sugou subjects Asuna to the unthinkable, further solidifying the author and A1’s innovative risk-taking with the series.
Although show is somewhat lacking in all-out battle action which comes across as strange, due to its highly suggestive title; the art of swordcraft, the worry is misplaced. The rarity of such scenes only serves to enhance the excitement during the boss battles. The immersion is further exemplified by the convincing use of light effects during animated scenes. This highly appropriate use of animation technique serves to amplify the effect of each, and every single hacking and slicing motion. Instead of Diablo-style hack and slice spamming, we are treated with the significance of each motion. A1 Pictures have clearly taken on board the mantra of quality over quantity.
Unfortunately, following the mantra means the show tried to cover too much, in too little time. An attempt at too much quality in too little time. SAO attempts to provide a realistic and varied portrayal of the world of MMOGs. They have unfortunately made the pioneer’s mistake of being far too ambitious. Some characters are casted a little too far to the side and that includes those that greatly influenced Kirito’s development being one-episode wonders. This is especially evident in the ‘Aria’ sub-arc where A1 Pictures attempted to cover too much ground in a single episode when Asuna was introduced. Nevertheless, while this may seem detrimental, the flip side is of course, the less intrusive nature of the side cast. This approach avoids the trap of character bloat which other series have fallen into. Despite the blunder with ‘Aria’, Asuna gets the focus she needs later in the series.
The excellent writing and animation is greatly amplified by the renowned composer, Kajiura Yuki who worked on the music. The style of the music resembles her most recent previous work (Fate/Zero), but is sufficiently different to set it apart, reminiscent of the time she worked on Mai-HiME and Tsubasa Chronicles back-to-back. She forgoes her usual techno, and instead utilizes a greater reliance on classic instruments and the orchestra. A highly appropriate decision as the art of swordsmanship and the resulting swordfights are traditional in nature. Despite classical instruments being rather ‘soft’ in comparison with electronic music, Kajiura delivered beautifully with the softer style actually multiplying the effectiveness of the battle scenes. Her mix of opera in the battle tracks only serves to give a sense of ‘epic’, seen in the likes of “The Lord of the Rings”.
It is important at this point to mention that SAO actually has two, highly distinct arcs. The second arc is not a death game, but a race against time. It also gives a much-needed change in pace from the seriousness that hung over the first arc. Unfortunately, the benefits of a slightly light-hearted arc is also its downfall. The sense of urgency from the race against time was not portrayed in the best manner, with Kirito taking seemingly pointless detours, which in actuality was in fact, perfectly reasonable. A1 Pictures disappointed in this regard, disconnecting the viewer with the character’s decision-making. Nevertheless, the detours sets the foundations of Kirito developing in the real world, and explores his relationship with people that are the closest to him. Aside from the minor drawback, the quality of writing is still very good (but not excellent) and the quality of animation and music is maintained.
All in all, the excellence of the individual components (e.g. sound, animation) come together at the end to give the viewer an anime that is pleasant to see, awe-inspiring to hear, and minds in intrigue with the story. A1 Pictures has successfully created an adaptation that entertains a wide variety of audiences. SAO is a must watch for fans of adventure, fantasy, romance and even harem. Even the detractors derived a whole new level of entertainment, expressed in forms not limited to reaction videos on YouTube. The product’s success is clearly seen through pure, objective evidence by means of Blu-Ray sales as viewers have overwhelmingly embraced SAO.
Overall, SAO gets an excellent 9/10. A truly enjoyable series that crosses an extremely wide range of anime fanbases which is no mean feat. It is probably fair to deduct a single point in light of the slight weakness in ‘Aria’ and in the second arc but not any more than that due to the amount of ground that required covering in order to complete Kirito’s development.
Now that I’ve mentioned ‘Aria’, there is another anime of the same name. This series must never be watched, for it involves girls simply rowing boats for 3 whole seasons. Worst of all, a ‘moeblob’ (in other words, ‘moe[brown stuff]’) loli character is introduced, being evidenced by her having an S-tier Zettai Ryouiki. The wise community must avoid such monstrosity going after easy cash and stick to shows of a deep and profound nature, such as SAO. read more
Dec 22, 2012
Not agreeing is pretty much the only thing everyone can agree on about this anime, and the controversy is what most obviously sets it apart from other anime that have aired this year is. And that's what I find most interesting about the anime. Therefore, what this review is all about is trying to figure out what's behind Sword Art Online's simultaneous success and backlash.
My view can be summed up as follows: this anime does a couple of things well, and everything else terribly. A simple allegory for this is found in the jungle. Carnivorous plants are predators, but with only a handful of exceptions, their kind is virtually incapable of quick movement. This makes them hunters who are unable to use any conventional hunting methods. But who needs that; using their alluring aroma and vibrant colors, they attract their prey straight to their digestive system and trap the dinner inside. The only thing they need to succeed at is the setup. The way I see it, Sword Art Online is the counterpart among anime. It most of all uses its captivating premise and a fascinating setup episode to convince us it's great before we have even seen what's actually deeper inside. I realize this theory is a big, speculative and arrogant assumption to make and generalizes many people excessively. So of course, I have prepared this tower of analysis to go with it, and it's up to everyone to see if they see any truth in it or not.
Let's start with something positive. The greatest accomplishment of Sword Art Online's writing, without a doubt, is its setting. It's absorbing and makes the anime very easy to get into. The key concept of the series is virtual reality and massive multiplayer online role playing games put together. Essentially, this means you could take the place of your in-game character, controlling it like it was yourself, in a virtual reality that seems and feels real beyond photorealistic. Sweet! In this particular game of SAO though, it's a bit too real. The players' minds are involuntarily trapped inside, and they aren't going anywhere unless they manage to complete the game. And game over means actual, real death. While that condition sucks for the player, it makes the subject matter of the story something more than just a game, more thrilling and real. There's also the matter that all this combines something fantasy-like with something familiar, it's a fine combination of approachable and fantastic.
But behind the premise, storytelling is horrid. Whenever the anime tries to do anything past its rough overall setting it fails miserably, and the virtual world that was so full of promise has nothing but pale skeletons of plot, worldbuilding and characterization. The way the story is structured and paced is terrible; constant time-skips make the story jump around. To make it worse, many of said skips lead to abrupt side stories with nothing but disappointingly filler-like content. Together these two issues leave the plot's key events far and between at times: not only in terms of time elapsed in the story, but episode count as well. That's not to say the actual story itself is good though; everything that happens is shallow, incoherent, inconsistent and clichéd. The plot developments are mostly predictable or filled with logical fallacies. Even the setting I just finished praising has huge holes that are blanketed with our suspension of disbelief, it's just easier to overlook flaws of actually awesome things than those of stupid attempts to be awesome.
There's a lot to point out about the writing quality, but there's something that needs to be done before that. The protagonist is so important in this series it would be really difficult to go over anything else in detail before introducing what he's like. Enter Kirigaya Kazuto, better known by his in-game name Kirito. At the beginning, he is timid to the point of avoiding even normal MMORPG interactions with other players and only seems to feel comfortable around select individuals, even with them with only one at a time. His anti-social inclination drives him start the game playing mostly solo, and after a case involving irrational prejudice against beta testers like himself, his lonely road seems determined. This is where the first time skip happens.
Although time has passed and many levels have been gained, Kirito's still consistent with his starting point. His lonely journey leads him to a group of friendly and easily approachable players, and he joins them. But this backfires, he leaves the group behind carrying a newly acquired guilt complex to go with his social uncertainties. He seems to be pretty much a wreck at this point. But then another time skip happens, and 90% of the anime's logic and sense of coherence die.
That's because this one isn't just any time-skip, it's a magical time-skip. Kirito drastically changes off-screen with no further explanation given. He has become a different person: the magnificent invincible protagonist is born. Compared to his starting point, let alone his state after a traumatic experience, Kirito is now outgoing, dependable, confident, understanding and even relatively lighthearted. The new Kirito helps others in need of his own initiative, nonchalantly jokes around with his friends and smack talks the bad guys like a boss. He carries his heavy memories of failure but they don't noticeably slow down his actions, he simply fights to make up for his mistakes. That's pretty close to some kind of a state of enlightenment. I'm not saying he should stay miserable, but that's a pretty huge development to do off-screen. How did he overcome such huge issues? What kind of thoughts did he have while powerleveling all by himself suffering from guilt and loneliness? Better figure it out yourself, because the anime doesn't tell, perhaps even know.
This hidden and sudden development is already very unconvincing. But adding insult to the injury, the episode where the new, improved Kirito makes his debut is the first of SAO's filler episodes. Unlike good fillers that halt the plot in order to let us become more familiar with the setting and characters, SAO's filler episodes are utterly meaningless. They are simply a demonstration of Kirito's perfection. They involve poorly thought out and trivial plots with no value. Additionally, one of Kirito's post-time magic improvements is that he now has the bearing of a dream prince and the suave speech of a poet. Or at least that's what I think, because every girl who spends time with him during his heroics falls for him. He's too tense to notice though, like any generic harem le-… I mean great hero. The way Kirito is always the center of attention and leaves everyone in his shadow further shows how poorly thought out the other players positioning into the story is. All of them are supposedly from a similar background, people who play games. Only a couple of them reach a level where they are somewhat useful, but Kirito is on a level of his own.
Further about Kirito, he's a really popular character. But the only way I see him is a big mess, the reason being his lack of credibility. The things that make him likeable, while all nice on their own and successful in the eyes of many, are overdone and their mutual relationship is ignored. He's a weird combination, he's given the characteristics of an underdog at first, but has turned into an unbeatable champion before you even notice, recognized as special even by the game itself. He started as weak and vulnerable only for him to be easier to root for, and somehow that support continues after his character lost all logic and consistency and becomes almighty. His weakness isn't completely forgotten though. He has some moments where he hesitates or is afraid, but like I said before, these don't affect him noticeably. They don't emerge during times involving immediate conflict that could be hindered by such emotions. Instead, those sentiments resurface to boost him. During some impossible fight, flashbacks about his bad memories reinforce his determination and act as another excuse for Kirito to exceed his unlimited limit once again.
Kirito is not the only character in this anime though. There's his love interest Asuna Yuuki as well. Now she's the perfect girl, but anything less would obviously be unworthy of standing next to Kirito. The anime takes particular care to emphasize, on multiple occasions, that Asuna is a really talented girl, independent, capable, loyal and whatnot. But in the end, even the perfect girl with her lightning fast attacks and unyielding courage remains strictly in Kirito's shadow. The only ways she stands out are that she's the beautiful flower in the game's field of nerds, and that she's good for cooking a delicious meal for her hero. Her happiness depends entirely on Kirito before we even know it, without enough development and characterization to make such strong feelings feel convincing. All in all, it's difficult to avoid feeling that their romance is meant to be strictly because it's meant to be, and perfection attracts perfection.
Although the romance is rushed, that alone didn't ruin it. It still would have had its appeal just from being simply one of those universally likeable stories about love that blossoms and supports a couple in the middle of adversary. The anime actually develops some level of deeper understanding between Asuna and Kirito as well as a need for them to rely on each other, and this is the only place where Kirito's so-called weakness is at all relevant. The cute/sensual factor is a plus as well. But Sword Art Online didn't consider this to be even remotely enough for this relationship. Their love gets focribly milked for all possible melodrama and sentimentality possible, using whatever unnatural means. It tries really, really hard to convince me that I should d'aww all shed tears over their happiness and hardship, but these very attempts just weird me out. The relationship would have been much more believable without things like a virtual marriage and a virtual daughter that are taken extremely seriously and treated with the utmost melodrama.
Before covering the other characters, let's get over the rest of this story thing first. Those earlier mentioned filler episodes and filler-like content were worthless, but that doesn't mean their goals weren't still vaguely identifiable. One thing they show is further proof of Kirito's strength. He is capable of pretty much anything, which kind of explains his arsenal of ass-pulls. These episodes also have some interactions between Asuna and Kirito who eventually become a couple, to make that relationship's development more believable. But none of this is natural, powerful or frequent enough to make up for it. We are forced to imagine a lot about how their relationship grew off-screen. Additionally, these filler episodes go over some factions, locations, phenomena and mechanics of the game, but their treatment is mostly on the level of mentions and nothing compared to the possibilities. This does little to enrich the world or characters.
And back to the characters. There would still be plenty to point out about Kirito, but the others need their space as well. As for the side characters, near every female character other than Asuna and Kirito's "daughter" Yui is basically identical to some secondary love interest character from a generic harem show. There's of course the exception of a couple of neurotic wrecks who are, well, just neurotic wrecks.
Out of SAO's male characters other Kirito, there are two distinct categories. The first one covers the friendly ones, everyone of them is useful for one purpose or two at max, but yet somehow silly enough to always keep it clear they are inferior to Kirito in every way. They are "total bros" as well, and this is validated with some awkward fistbumps and nothing else. The other group consists of outright assholes and idiots without redeeming qualities. The villain himself is positioned somewhere between these categories. He plans thoroughly, to the point of having safety measures in place that have the entire world's combined scientific knowledge on its knees. He is capable enough for a villain, mysterious and brutal yet fair in his own disturbing way, and the way he is a part of the story is fitting, but his motives? After defeat he does some pretentious mumbling that is vague by any metric. Though for someone so half-assed about reasons and motives, it's only fitting for him to be eventually uncovered by the spontaneous awakening of Kirito's detective eye and destroyed by the king of all ass-pull techniques.
At this point I was ready to rate the story as high as 4. Not just for the setting and producing some intense moments, but maybe even more out of recognition for the success the anime had achieved despite being so terrible in many more crucial ways than it is good or even decent. But the thing is, I only just covered the BETTER first half of the series. This anime continues beyond that, and the next part is way, way worse. It has a terrible idea of a premise and no well thought out new ideas, it's the model case of keeping a story going because it sells rather than because there's more to tell about it. The premise of this second part is so stupid that when I first saw someone summarize the premise, I thought it was a joke. It's still hard to believe it wasn't.
There's one thing that the latter half managed to accomplish though, and that is truly convincing me of just how hard the first part had failed at its portrayal of the average player. In the first part, thousands of ordinary players have their minds trapped inside a game, they could die any moment. In the second part however, it's literally just a game for the participants. But the behavior between these death players and role-players is mostly indistinguishable, the only clear difference is that the first game's players panic for the first few minutes, scream and cry a little bit more before they perish, and they also blame beta testers for everything, which is stupid as hell. Even if the first part brought up some thoughts about the difference between lifelike virtual reality and real life to excuse how accustomed the players got into it, that treatment was just a shallow excuse to ignore the humanity of its players.
The second part has another unique problem. Its doesn't include the first one's sudden death mode, and this danger element is replaced by some kind of a weird kidnapping scenario that makes it a race against the clock. This was a bad choice. Sword Art Online clearly sucks at pacing too hard to be able to handle a scenario that involves immediate sense of urgency. Even if the second part doesn't have outright filler in a sense since the story are always moves towards a destination that involves the goal somehow, but it's rarely a rational way to do things. Kirito shows some messed up priorities. In the first part he shared some "wisdoms" like how respawning NPCs' deaths have the same significance as those of real human players, and that if you see someone die the best thing to do is to accompany them to death even if it accomplishes nothing. He somehow outdoes those in the second part, and instead of just spouting nonsense it also leads him to waste time on detours where it feels like he forgot all about Asuna already. Those lead to a fight scene or two more than would have happened otherwise though, and I guess that's what's most important for what this anime is going for.
The second part introduces some new characters. Most importantly, it brings Kirito's sister Suguha Kirigaya, or Sugu, from being briefly mentioned at the beginning to the center of the story. Oh, sorry I got confused, she's actually his cousin. That's because we were obviously missing a semi-incest inclusive love triangle in this story. So, she turns out to be Asuna's love rival for Kirito's affection. This is possibly the most annoying part of the second part of SAO, the misunderstanding is annoying and is just something the second part adds for a heartbreak to be melodramatic about. But nothing major though, writing a realistic process for this dilemma would be a hassle. This doesn't replace the previous melodrama, the first part's corny family life carries over just in case we don't have enough things to facepalm over. The positive thing about the addition of Sugu is that it involved some dialogue that touches parts of Kirito's past, but it wasn't convincing. Sugu's romantic sentiments were the thing in the focus rather than their family situation.
This part also has a villain, one of the worst ones ever at that. Not only is he completely demonized to the point the only human qualities in him are greed and lust, he's ultimately a pathetic pervert and incapable of taking care of anything, including basic safety measures. Well, it would have been useless against Kirito either way. This villain is butchered to give more glory and credibility to the first part's villain, it even involves distasteful torture from the part of a character who is portrayed heroic and just. If the first part's conclusion was the king of ass-pulls, then this one is their god. Calling the way the villain's ambition got destroyed badly thought out would be an exaggeration, as that suggests at least some rational thought had been put into the contrived connections and coincidences involved.
So the writing is terrible. But if everything about it is so bad, why would it get and stay so popular and highly rated? While it's arrogant of me to assume how others see things, I think Sword Art Online's scenario alone is so captivating to many it earns the anime's story a lot of leeway with the way it is actually told. We are talking about people who got fascinated by the concept, believed it would be good and wanted to keep believing as long as there are still signs they haven't been completely betrayed and the anime actually delivers. And the anime delivered pretty much everything the setting promises; fight scenes, MMORPG elements, growth and heroic feats of the protagonist, friendship, romance, psychological drama and so on. The appearance of one of these alone is seen as a positive thing because it gives reason to keep believing the anime really is what was expected. While, of course, many of these scenes can be entertaining individually, it's mostly the power of make-believe that makes up for the writing's lack of cohesion, originality and depth.
But it's worth noting that this leeway isn't unlimited. Many realized that the second part sucks, even if they enjoyed the first part, mostly because the setting changes and quality goes down even further. Some stopped giving it the benefit of doubt when the first part reached its lackluster finale. But in the end, the majority made it through satisfied.
There's still the boring technical side to cover. Like the premise, the visuals were good at immersing into the game's world. The transition into the game's world itself is portrayed in detail visually. Upon entry, the design and integration of menu screens, the layout of information in the player interface and the grand, fantasy-like scale and surrealism of the landscape warmly welcome to the game's world. All this is already inviting, but what really got me into it was when the combat skills were demonstrated. There's basically a tutorial-like segment between Kirito and a newbie where the system is explained, it covers the entire idea of the game quickly and got me really want to try the game out right away. And besides, the concept of the weapon gleaming and executing a skill command gives potential for making detailed combat choreographies both impressive and easy to follow. The overall quality of art was definitely good enough, nothing wrong with the character designs shown in the opening episode either. But like with the story, first looks are deceiving.
First of all, the combat scenes. The name of this anime is Sword Art Online, that makes it sound like there's going to be something impressive going involving swords. Also considering what the first light novel is like, what could really have benefitted from being adapted into anime are the battles. They had rather colorless prose in the novels, even if they describe fight sequences in detail. But considering how critical they were supposed to be one of the absolute highlights, fight sequences have some odd decisions. Many fights don't have the attacks themselves animated, and they are left up to use of special effects instead. Some other fights just go over a couple of simple motions over and over again, few are even recycled. Impacts of hits, people flying around and such are often just still shots. While there are a couple of good looking fights with fluid animation, this overall choice for handling combat betrays one important thing the anime should have focused on particularly much.
The character designs don't look bad, but they don't capture something important. The first part of the story supposedly involves mostly ordinary people whose in-game character is made look exactly the same they look in the real world, but they regardless have appearances closer to standard fantasy variety. That's not a problem in the second part, but on the other hand everyone has ugly elf ears. There's also the matter of scenery that was a letdown. While the general landscape is pretty, upon closer look it's generic towns, generic fields and generic mountains. To make it worse, many places that aren't generic are ridiculously out of place or just empty. The second part actually did this one better though. Everything looks fantasy-like and good, and although many ideas about it are clichéd, they aren't fundamentally stupid. And with a couple of exceptions the monster designs are just.. not threatening at all, even for fodder minions. There's no denying that the detail of art is good and quality of animation is well above average, and that the coloring and shading are nice. All this is just often wasted by being mistimed or part of unimaginative design.
Sound is another thing that deserves a lot of praise. The sound environment is really well done down to details, and the soundtrack is great. When some awesome track starts flaring and the camera goes over some of the anime's most fantastic looking scenery, a tasteful and beautiful melody puts some emotion to a tender moment or even during short fights where the fanciest "random encounter" battle theme ever starts playing, it's easy to even start accidentally enjoying the series for a moment. About voice acting, there isn't a flaw in the performances, they connect the character's personality and emotion quite well and the voices are fitting. The characters and dialogue themselves are bad.
This anime is simply underwhelming, it's essentially on amateur level of writing and comes with a couple of bad technical decisions that overlook things which could and should have been important highlights. Although the appeal of adventure, romance and action is still there and the setting helps a lot to make it more interesting to watch, all this is ultimately diminished by the flaws. The inconsistency and stupidity of it all, and particularly the cheapness and melodrama involved with all moments of catharsis, both happy and sad, make me cringe more than the enjoyable parts entertained me. It's no small feat to reach the point of being laughably bad when something like Muv Luv Total Eclipse is airing at the same time to compare against, but Sword Art Online just manages to make it an a surprisingly even struggle. This one is at the top of the ratings and popularity rankings, the other one is at the other end. I don't know if any of my speculation hit the mark, but at least I'm sure this anime would have turned out way better had its writing past the setting been outsourced to someone competent. read more
Oct 15, 2012
In the beginning, Sword Art Online (SAO) looked like it could have turned out to be the best show of the year, no exaggeration. The premise of being stuck and unable to log out of a virtual reality MMO with the condition that dying in the game means you die in real life and the only way out is to clear all 100 floors was set up extremely well in the first episode. The second episode continued this with the first boss fight, supported by well-done animation and Yuki Kajiura's amazing-as-always score. At this point, hopes were high.
But it didn't last.
The following few episodes were side stories from the original novel that have little to do with the overall plot. On their own, none of these are all that bad, but together they become rather tedious and ridiculous, especially when you realize that the focus of each one is the main character, Kirito, befriending and helping a cute girl (despite the fact that the female playerbase is said to only be 10%), and in more than half the cases, said girl getting attached to Kirito in more than a "friendly" way. And these characters, if they appear later at all, never again play a significant role.
These episodes would have worked better if they'd been placed throughout the series between story arcs - though it later becomes apparent that this would not actually work - or released separately as OVAs or DVD specials. The best thing to be said about them is that they help to give the game world some more depth since they explain some game mechanics and show viewers how the various groups of players are going about playing the game, but the information is mostly superfluous and could have easily been given to us through the main story. Not that any of it ever gets used again anyway.
Then the main story continues and things get...worse.
It's at this point that an idea starts developing that perhaps the writer of the novels merely had a good idea for a story but didn't know what to do with it past the premise. The above-mentioned side stories were included when they were because the show is being broadcast in chronological order; when the main story picks back up, it's been two years since the last main story episode. Bonds between characters have been formed off-screen and over the half the game has already been cleared.
What a rip-off.
Before continuing with the story, let's look at the characters. We have our protagonist Kirito, a solo player who knows his way around the game fairly well as a result of having been a beta tester for the game. Okay, this is cool. We don't need 12 episodes of training to become the best in every show, a strong-from-the-start MC is fine. But that's not quite what Kirito is. Kirito is portrayed as essentially perfect in every way; he never loses a (fair) fight, he always has a solution, and all the chicks dig him. Basically, Kirito is a Gary Stu, a self-insert wish-fulfillment character with no true substance (have you heard of that before, anime fans?). He even gets a special ability not given to any other player just because he's that awesome.
Now let's look at Asuna, the only other character the show actually cares about. She is initially portrayed as a strong, individual female who has abilities on par with the male characters. Again, this was good at first. But it quickly becomes clear that she only exists as otaku bait. She's extremely popular and beautiful and all the guys want her...but she only wants Kirito. And despite the fact that she is supposedly a strong player, she's treated more like a prize than a teammate; Kirito literally fights for her freedom from her guild more than once. Yeah, she can't even earn her own freedom for some vacation time after all the work she's been putting in for the past two years. Sexist much? No MMO guild leader would actually be this anal, but hey, we need to make Kirito look awesome somehow.
And really, that's all Asuna is here for: to enhance Kirito's badass status. When he almost dies, she's there to cling to him and cry for him. When Kirito needs to look awesome, she's put in some kind of trouble and he gets her out of it. She also cooks for him because her cooking level is so high because hey, your waifu needs to cook for you, Kirito.
Tailor Twilight so that it appeals to boys instead of girls and send your awful fanfic to the printing press. Sword Art Online has been born.
No, I'm not joking. Screw action, screw plot, cue romance. SAO skips out on all the floor-clearing and boss-killing and decides to just have its main characters play house and do character development backwards. Nothing is believable about the relationship between these two characters. We see no real development between them since the show kind of just drops us into the middle of things after those useless side stories are over. And this is the focus for multiple episodes. Lots of cheesy, lovey-dovey dialogue, hand-holding, and sleeping is what we're fed. It's an otaku wish-fulfillment, folks; you're in a medieval world, you're the strongest person around, the cute girls all want you, and you don't have to work because magic (game mechanics) supplies everything.
Oh, and breast-groping. Can't forget the blatant fanservice!
Another thing I praised the show for at first was that it seemed like an accurate portrayal of what a virtual reality MMO would actually be like. But, as usual, SAO managed to crap on itself. The whole "beater" concept, a combination of the words "beta" for beta testers and "cheater," is laughably ridiculous and would never happen and obviously only exists to antagonize certain groups of players and give Kirito even more attention. We also see a group of players acting as an "army" of sorts going around forcing other players to pay taxes, even attacking an in-game daycare (LOL) in order to collect; this is dumb. Once again, a way to make Kirito and Asuna look like such sugoi people for helping out the needy children. Somewhere along the line the writer decided to make this a pseudo-medieval setting, taking what he wanted from the medieval era and what he wanted from MMO mechanics and not caring how they would make sense with each other. It's even written in the novel and alluded to in the anime that characters can have sex (but can't get pregnant, because that's no fun). Now that's taking cyber-sex to a whole new level. What would our wish-fulfillment world be without it?
But before too long we get to the climax of the first main arc, and after a couple miracles and deus ex machinas we can very clearly see that the author had no damn clue what he was going to do with his story after he had the premise down. The promise that was made to us has been broken and we, the viewers, are left with one of the most soulless shows to ever hit the airwaves. Any generic battle shounen at least gives us the action it promises and has better developed relationships and themes of friendship. Any generic harem at least knows it's dumb and only exists to appeal to that niche group of otaku who still enjoy it. SAO is a lie, a cheat, a traitor, and is worse than either of those. SAO wants you to believe it's good and smart, but it's so bad it doesn't even manage to achieve So Bad It's Good status. It's just terrible.
And now we're at the start of a new arc. Things...don't look any better. Kirito has added a new member to his harem in the form of a busty little sister/cousin (emphasis on that bust), because we needed some imouto fetish-fuel in here. Our antagonist is about as generic and stereotypical as they come, but that kind of fits because our new plot is about as generic and stereotypical as they come.
I've spent a lot of time on characters and plot without mentioning technical aspects because the technical aspects, no matter how good they are, really just won't change anything. They're there, and they're good; really, there's nothing wrong with them. Kajiura's music, when noticeable, is great and enhances the few good scenes the show has. The animation is also good. But neither is really amazing enough to be notable, so in the end, they just can't save a terrible piece of work.
And Sword Art Online is a downright terrible piece of work.
Story - 2/10: Good premise, atrocious execution.
Art - 8/10: It looks nice.
Sound - 7/10: Yuki Kajiura.
Character - 1/10: There are no characters in this anime.
Enjoyment - 3/10: It's fun to criticize.
Overall - 2/10. read more
May 10, 2013
I didn't like the rushing of the anime, I've said that above. And here are some things. Kirito and Asuna got married pretty quickly, and basically I say they fell in love in rush mode, they fell in love pretty fast. What I thought the anime was going to be like was a bad-ass action-adventure with a great plot. But, SAO didn't have any of that. The action was stale, not much adventure in it, and no great plot well because it was very rushed into. Besides the dumb romance, all this makes no sense in the anime because they could just fall in love slowly. Still, it was horrible to put the romance in it. It was not the character's fault. It was the creator's fault for this. I would never blame an anime character or any other character for such fathom. And the next it that it rushes the fights pretty quick if you think about it.
The anime is very predictable. Kirito and Oberon are the worst parts, when they en guarde. At that time, Kirito had the ability to erase him, but he didn't. He just battled him. That's pretty dumb. But, it's pretty mutual that Kirito had that ability. He basically just wanted revenge. Episode 24 was the worst episode in my opinion. And Kirito and the GM, very many people would agree. And I do too. What the heck. But, the plot-holes are worst.
Kayaba Akihiko didn't cover all the plot holes. The GM plot as I mentioned, was horrible. 31/10/2022[SAO game comes out] >forward to Episode 4, it's 24/02/2024. And on episode 2, they should have not survived if they had no food nor water. They should be dead! GM plot sucks. SAO is very BS. Not to be rude to the fans or anything.
I hope you liked it and thanks for reading. read more
Feb 3, 2013
The story is interesting as a premise; ten thousand players are trapped permanently in the MMORPG where the only way to get out is by clearing the game. A nice catch is that if their hit points run out they will not respawn in the nearest portal but instead they will die permanently. Something similar is going to happen if someone from the outside world tries to remove the virtual helmet in an attempt to free them prematurely. This offers a feeling of actual mortal danger and that it’s not just a harmless game. Another catch is how their avatars in the game are made to look as their real selves, so it was funny to find the usual joke of males playing females or hardly being as handsome as they appeared at first. So, think of all the cool stuff you would normally expect to get with such a premise.
- A thrilling survival/death game
- Epic battles full of buffs, spells, and elaborate strategies
- A huge variety of game mechanics and resource management of rare ingredients
- Soul crushing tragedies concerning the death of people
- Intrigue and conspiracies by those who will do anything it takes to survive
… And sadly you only get a few crams of those. As soon as the shock from the most intriguing pilot episode is over, you are offered a mess of a plot, shallow conflicts, cop-out solutions, and lots-n’-lots dumb self-indulgence.
Reason of why SAO sucks No.1: The fandom is retarded
Sounds strange to have as a reason something that is not directly affiliated with the show and has to do with its fans? It is not strange at all if you consider how this is the most overhyped and overrated series of 2012, proving once again that the majority of the anime fandom is a bunch of tasteless people who only care about fan service and then have the nerve to call that deep and quality writing. At the same time innovating and quality titles such as Shinsekai Yori get neglected exactly because they are about context and subtlety. Makes sense NOT! Thanks for telling the industry what type of shows to make in the future you idiots!
If the show wasn’t hyped so bad by people with so bad tastes, this series would be just another mediocrity that would soon be forgotten as it deserved. And instead of that it became the latest example that I will constantly be using every time some idiot claims that a show’s popularity is proof of its masterpiece status. I will be replying by saying “Oh yeah? Tell that to SAO.”
In a similar way, if the show wasn’t hyped so bad, this review wouldn’t be so damn long. Every time I was writing something, I had a dozen fanboys jumping on me, trying to excuse the inexcusable. One of them was even a forum moderator who had the nerve to delete every negative post and leave only the hyped positives remaining. With the exception being those he could of course prove wrong by quoting them and providing bullshit reasoning. It was that retarded mentality that forced me to progressively make the review longer in order to constantly shoot down every new crap they were mentioning every week in a futile attempt to defend a crap of a show. So in case you don’t like the size, blame them; not me. I am only being thorough.
Let me start by trashing those misguided beliefs by mentioning the obvious: Sword Art Online (SAO) has the same premise as .hack which means it’s about people being trapped in a videogame. At the same time it has a far weaker characterization and no philosophical ramblings or amazing soundtrack, or a good plot; thus a much-much-much worse variant to .hack. It is a lot more about catering videogame nerds with poorly presented terminology that is there just to offer familiarity with their hobby. That is why it got so hyped; it’s full of terminology that offers familiarity to the target audience. It’s like football fans liking a movie a lot just because it has people in it that love to talk about football. Or it’s like shonen fans who like Gintama a lot because it is constantly referring a lot of stuff from their favourite shows. We are living in the videogame generation and SAO was made to appeal to this generation. And sadly that is the only thing it is doing right; since aside from familiarity everything else in it is shit.
At the same time it is barely exploring any of its interesting concepts, which means the fans will do the usual: Speculate for years over what the hell is going on. It’s the same thing that made other shonen such as Naruto or Bleach so famous. It is constantly making you have high expectations (which of course are never met) and is deliberately not making any sense so you are made to fill the blanks by yourself, using the only tool available: Imagination and wish fulfilment. It’s a very neat trick to fool the superficial audience into liking and talking about something because it is presented as mysterious, even when in reality it is simply badly written fan fiction.
But it’s not like it is a show that can’t be appreciated by the masses either. It is so full of stereotypes and overused formulas that everybody can simply have fun with its kitsch factor. I mean, damn, any attempts at romance this show tries to have is straight from a stereotypical chauvinistic and unrealistic eroge. You can easily see why harem and vn fans will love it at first sight. You know what kind of people I am talking about; the same people you give a real book to read and give up on the third page because it is not full of boobs and has more than 100 different words repeating over and over again.
Of course all those stereotypes are magically presented as something original and amazing, since they will conveniently be fooling the idiotic masses with double standards and vague meaning all the time. Just like the Bible! When it suits the script, it will appeal to real life claiming OMG THIS IS SO REAL - THIS IS HOW GAMERS BEHAVE, and when it doesn’t it will run to excuse everything with random gaming terminology clichés. Thus everything is excused! It’s like someone who pretends to be a scientist but every time he can’t reply, he will say God willed it or something; thus winning both sides.
And if you think the above element is what makes the show unique, then you haven’t watched many good anime. There are dozens of such anime that make you think and many that are far more mature and intelligent than this mediocrity. So, it’s not like I compare SAO to only .hack and call it shit because it’s not as good as it. There are many anime with a videogame flavour, many of which are worse than it; let’s say, Megaman NT or Tower of Druaga. At the same time, it’s not the best by far, since for example Mahoujin Guruguru is an amazing parody of RPG stereotypes.
SAO is also barely original as a concept regarding videogames, so don’t pay attention to what all those nebs out there say. And to prove that, here is a list of recent shows to SAO that have videogames and gamers in them. -> Accel World, Btooom, Ixion Saga, Robotic;Notes, and Hunter X Hunter. And I didn’t even bother to add all the others from earlier years, such as Dennou Coil, or cartoons such as Captain N, or live action movies such as Tron, Spy Kids 3D, or Game Box 2.0. NOT SO ORIGINAL ANYMORE HM?
So in a few words, you watch .hack to think about the meaning of life, and then you watch SAO because you play videogames and like to have fun with the gaming terminology, or laugh at its eroge stereotypes. Have no delusions, the show is mediocre at best or below average if you are a demanding viewer. I happen to be demanding and seeing how overhyped this trash is only manages to make me hate it even more.
Reason of why SAO sucks No.2: The presentation of the show’s themes lacks severally
The anime is based on the light novels by Kawahara Reki, the same author who wrote the Accel World (AW) light novels, which have very similar concepts and themes. This guy is practically only writing about the ideal brothel all gamers want to spend their lives in and sure as hell does not write good plots or characters. He is exactly like those people who write sappy romances full of sex for bored middle aged housewives. He just throws in sci-fi / action / superpower / comedy / drama that are poorly related to some totally imbalanced videogame.
Most of what is going on in the plot is implied and not shown. For example, we are told thousands of players died in a few weeks. We never see that, which automatically makes the whole tragedy of the event completely superficial. It would be amazing if we were shown clips of people being killed by monsters and traps since it would make their deaths more than a flimsy passage. Instead of that all we are told is that they are dead; end of story and moving along.
Do not expect to see a hundred boss fights. You will get only four, the rest are skipped entirely.
Do not expect constant grinding, hard ingredient gathering, or epic battles. They all last only a few minutes and always end anticlimactically. This is not really an action show based on survival by killing monsters.
Do not expect 25 episodes of engaging plot, where everybody is constantly trying to survive, levels up, and is always pressing forward.
- The death game ends midway through the show; the rest of the episodes are a completely different, non-deadly game
- Half of the death game episodes are plotless fillers
- Half of the plot-based episodes will not be fantasy adventure in a videogame world but rather slice of life, light adventures, very rushed stories, and fan service. Meaning, the total duration of the actual game only lasts for about 3 full episodes. The rest of them are irrelevant to the basic plot.
Do not expect any real fleshing out. Everything will be mentioned for a few seconds and will never be elaborated. Despite the various explanations you will never understand the game mechanics.
- Every time someone is injured in this game, his hit points drop gradually and not at once. This led me to believe there was a little bit of time allowed to heal someone before his life drops to zero and he dies by the damage he received seconds ago. But no, the game doesn’t allow that and I had to be told you can’t heal someone if his life is “actually” zero. People in the game are simply dying with delay, just so they can have a few seconds to throw out some famous last words. This creates a very big confusion, since without being told that, it really seems like you can heal them but don’t want to, or the victims refuse to be healed and act like they want to die. You won’t believe how retarded everybody seems to act in their death throes just because they never explained this part.
- There is another part where some players have a teleportation crystal but don’t use it to escape to town when they are ambushed by other players. They act like they forgot they had one when in reality I had to be told by someone who read the novels that a crystal needs 8 seconds to activate. Without being told that in-series, it just feels retarded and confusing.
- Most said game mechanics will matter only in the same episode they are introduced. You will never see or hear about them in a later episode.
- All secondary characters do not have a role to the plot past the episode they are introduced. They will become background decoration afterwards.
- All feats the protagonist accomplices will be forgotten in a few episodes by everybody and it’s like they never happened in the first place. This trashes all sense of progress and development.
- And there are many other parts that simply contradict the way the game is played.
* At some cases it is stated none of the bosses can leave the room they guard, in some others it is stated they roam the countryside and can even attack cities.
* At some cases a crystal is said to be enough to teleport away a whole team, at others it only teleports one person.
* At one part they mention there are renegade players who have betrayed their city, but then it is stated they respawn back to their town when killed, something which makes no sense, since this way nobody would be able to escape the wrath of those he betrayed.
* They constantly say you don’t feel pain in the game, yet you clearly see how every time someone hits them, they act like they are in pain. At the same time they say you can feel pleasure in the game (aka, have an orgasm) when otherwise pleasure and pain can’t exist separately since they are basically the same thing.
* There is a barrier at some point of the game to prevent anyone from crossing to forbidden parts of the game. Nothing should be able to pass through it. And yet when someone throws a simple card at it, it just passes through with no problem.
All explanations to game mechanics or character roles are presented mostly though explanatory monologues. Meaning, they are talking a lot and show very little. We hardly see how things work out on-screen and they mostly talk about them; which is boring.
- But this is also a smart trap the series uses in order to make everything interesting. It never explains something clearly and lets you assume how something happened. You can literally explain everything any way you like and you will be right. For example, when I was pointing out plot holes in some forum, the fanboys of this show would run to excuse them by making up stuff that are not present in the show. They were talking about games they somehow / somewhere / somewhat have a few similarities to SAO and thus every game mechanic makes sense. Which of course is bullshit, since there are so many videogames out there, and one of them is bound to have a mechanic to excuse the unexcused. Every show needs to make sense on its own and not by being compared to other shows or games. But no, the fanboys are stupid enough to believe that since the anime never shows how it works, anything you say may as well be the truth. A very cheap method to hide all plot holes or even bother to explain all the rules of the game.
- Of course this trick does not work with someone as smart as me. In fact, if I play their game I get to trash them completely. So, supposed I once played something similar 20 years ago, that somehow feels relevant to a somewhat similar rule in a completely different game such as SAO… Why don’t they become giants when they eat mushrooms in the forests or throw fireballs when they smell daisies in the valleys? If it happened in Super Mario, it should have happen here. But it didn’t, so there are many plot holes in this game.
- The fanboys are again trying to excuse that by saying we don’t know how videogames will be like in the future, so it’s wrong to mention rules than apply to current games. At which point I can only laugh at. First they say they love the game terminology and now they say it doesn’t even apply. Meaning, they don’t give a rat’s ass if it makes sense, they only want to hear words that have to do with videogames. Ha! Losers.
All revelations occur out of nowhere. The protagonist will literally be sitting in a corner and without any concrete proof or actual facts he will be reaching to flawless epiphanies. Examples include how he found out the way people get murdered in towns or who the guild leader really is.
Reason of why SAO sucks No.3: The game mechanics are stupid
Even if you try to accept the broken rules and the unexplained gameplay as they are, everything still feels stupid as hell.
Take the very objective of the whole SAO game for example. All you have to do in order to win is to kill all the bosses. And if you think this means a lot of hard work and endless hours of farming, equipping, and buffing, you are wrong. You can clear the game without having to fight a single time! I am not kidding; you can spend years sleeping or goofing around and you can still survive. The reason is simple and dumb. Every boss doesn’t respawn! If someone beats it once, it will never return and not every player needs to kill it at least once in order to advance to the next level. Only a dozen hardcore players are enough to clear the whole game by doing the above troublesome procedure, while all the rest can do absolutely nothing. They can be sleeping in town and when they hear the boss is beaten, they can just go to the next level. They don’t even need to walk through dangerous areas in order to get to the next town since they can use an easily acquired teleportation crystal.
- The above easy method gets even easier. After a revelation happens they don’t even need to clear all 100 floors, since the game ends prematurely way before they get to the last level.
The game is also not really as deadly as they want you to believe.
- The things I mentioned above ruin the feeling of dread, since all of a sudden it is very easy to survive in this game. Just don’t do anything or go farming past the easy areas. At the same time it makes the viewer think someone who endangers himself to the point of getting killed, simply deserved it for being a complete idiot who got what he deserved. Every time someone is killed, instead of feeling sad you just end up thinking: “Serves you right for going to farm in a dungeon fifty times your level, instead of letting others with proper levels and skills to do it for you.”
- Any sense of danger is lost when you realize the system will make sure the protagonist will always be overpowered, will never lose, and be the guaranteed victor all the time just because he is the protagonist.
- Furthermore, the death game aspect that seemed so interesting at first, is completely gone in the second half of the show, since nobody really dies there; it’s just a typical MMO where you respawn as usual.
The fighting is heavily based on “switching”, meaning to jump back and forth while waiting for your attacks to cool down and allowing your team mates to storm in without you standing in their way. This makes each battle to feel silly for being based too much on tag in and tag out of battle.
Every single problem in the game is based on the exact same thing. Not being able to use of crystals. There are crystals to teleport or heal and if for any reason they can’t use them, tragedy occurs. It becomes predictable early on and so every time someone shows or talks about crystals, get ready for something stupid to happen.
The most interesting aspect of the game is underplayed. And no, I don’t mean the ridiculous date sim but the cheats. There are many ways to abuse the game mechanics for powerplay and they are all very interesting for allowing you to have shortcuts to levelling up. But no, they are presented as evil when they are an easy way to beat the game easier. Kirito is hunting anyone who cheats, supposed for fair play, when in reality he is cheating himself for being a beta tester.
And to add to all the confusion, several rules don’t even matter after awhile. The author will constantly be rewriting them just for the sake of retarded plot twists, thus ruining even the very main appeal of the show.
- Being about to be killed? Have the artificial intelligence of the game saving you just for the heck of it.
- Being paralysed? Break the unbreakable status effect with the power of love.
- Staying alive even after you are dead? Sure, why not?
- Transferring all your hax skills to a completely new game instead of starting from level 1 as normal? Happens all the time.
- Being able to steal main equipment from other players that can trash completely the balance of the game? This is something no MMO ever allowed and no other player was ever shown doing it. But whatever; the protagonist can do it because he is the protagonist.
- Being able to use items such as access cards that are restricted to admin status only, even when you are not an admin? Yeah, I bet there is a game somewhere that lets you do that too.
- Being given the admin status and revoking all the privileges the game owner has by a ghost? But of course! That happens in every MMO we ever played! And I love how the ghost was waiting for the last moment to give him this power up when it could otherwise do it all along. And I still can’t believe how the retarded fanboys tried to excuse that by mentioning that one of the most mature titles of all times, Ghost in the Shell, also has a ghost hacker and nobody complained about that. Yeah, probably because it never offered any deus ex machina to the heroine, nor did it alter the way videogames are played!
The funniest part is how thanks to this review I made the fanboys eventually admit the gameplay is full of crap… and STILL excuse it by saying there are lots of imbalanced games out there being played by thousands of people JUST BECAUSE. Yes, the exact same reason everything works in this show. JUST BECAUSE.
Reason of why SAO sucks No.4: The characters make no sense
As a result of the lacking presentation, several characters will be having some really weird mood swings.
- You will never know what they think or why they changed like that all of a sudden. Something simple such as internal monologues could help to clear the confusion but the anime adaptation removed most of them.
- Characters will behave in the most one dimensional way possible, just to make the audience know right away what to feel about them for the rest of the show.
- Character introductions, relationships, and dramatization will form, develop, and end in just 10 minutes. There is simply no time to appreciate all that, yet the show will constantly expect from you to do so. It’s impossible to care for something which has no time invested in fleshing it out first. You will constantly see characters crying over people they know for a few days and barely exchanged ten sentences with. You are left to wonder what is so tragic about people you barely saw a couple of times. It’s like in those sappy movies such as Titanic or Twilight, where a romance is formed two minutes after the main characters meet.
The game is hardly exploiting the survivor aspect and heads for retarded fan service.
- All characters follow stereotypes that you mostly find in ecchi comedies.
- All characters are to the most part not worried about their lives. They will behave as if this is a game and not a life or death situation. And indeed, instead of making you feel like they do anything they can to survive, you are instead made to think they are enjoying it, like nothing of importance is going on. It may be fun for the audience to see them doing all the classic stuff players do in online games, but this is NOT a typical game. In fact, they are not even playing if they are forced to do it and defeat means death.
- The plot is half the time like that of a typical harem and not like that of a survival story. The protagonist for example makes any girl to fall in love with him 10 minutes after they meet for the first time, without any effort or even when he acts like a total jerk to them. There are no ugly girls in the whole show, even when they are supposed to have their real faces, and they all fall in love with the same guy. At the same time, every other male besides the protagonist will be either a lame comic relief, or a completely sadistic asshole who loves to mistreat women and has no redeeming qualities.
Kirito, the harem lead, is an anti-social in the real world, so he just spends his time playing videogames. And yet even as something as simple as that is turned to one big mess of contradiction.
- We are never told why or how he became anti-social, neither we see him living a lame life outside of the game. We are just told in passing it is as such and need to believe it; that’s it. Talk about poor presentation; you simply have no idea why he doesn’t like people. And that is exactly what makes no sense numerous times later on, since he is he constantly helping people when he is supposed to be afraid of them.
- He always mentions he doesn’t want to join guilds or be part of a team, yet he constantly does the exact opposite. And he does it only a cute girl needs his help, which makes him look like a sexual predator that magically becomes sociable when some nice pair of boobs is involved.
- Supposed he just wants to help people without getting too friendly with them. That is far from true, since he always manipulates them for personal gain.
* (episode 2) His idea of friendship is to betray his own team and make everybody to hate him, so they will be too busy trying to kill him instead of killing each other. Somebody needs to tell him that a team which wants to self-destroy itself is not really a team. But it’s ok, it’s not something anyone cares about a few episodes later. In fact, they will pretend like he never betrayed anyone.
* (episode 3) He constantly lies to his team or doesn’t tell them crucial information, a thing which always results to misunderstanding and a lot of deaths that could very easily had been prevented.
* Even when girls are involved, instead of being polite to them he treats them like dirt. Practically every male in the story is a misogynist and the protagonist is supposed to be there to protect the girls from other men, yet he is no better than the rest. Yet, the girls don’t mind and forgive him right away, just because he is the protagonist.
• (episode 4) He pretends to care for a girl but in reality he only uses her as bait for bandits, so he can show off how cool he is.
• (episode 5) He pretends he cares for a female blacksmith but in reality he breaks her best sword and then manipulates her into making another one, which of course she gives it for free. And as soon as she expects from him to say how much he loves her, he runs away with his other girlfriend, he refused to mention he had all this time.
* Furthermore, he is supposed to be the top level player in the game, presumably by constantly fighting in the higher levels, yet always goes back to lower levels and randomly walks around looking for weaker players who may need his help. How is that possible?
• How is he the top player if he is spending half his time in lower areas that offer less experience?
• Not to mention how you need to share the experience from the battles amongst other players.
• What logic is this; to save others by delaying his progress through the game by going back and looking around for random players who all accidentally may need his help? He can save them all by simply pressing forward and clearing the game, instead of this nonsense. Meaning, he ended up killing far more people this way, instead of saving.
* At one point he refuses to kill a few NPC players, an act that will help them beat a boss. His excuse is that he doesn’t want to see people dying. They are not real dumb-ass; plus they respawn even when they die. So who cares?
• Later, he contradicts that by spending the whole day sleeping and saying his life is just fine in the game and doesn’t need to do anything anymore. In the meantime, others were getting killed while fighting bosses and monsters. Supposed he did that because it reminds him of the time his earlier guild was killed but we are never told that; so it’s like a plot hole.
• Even more later, when the game is no longer deadly, he contradicts himself once again and kills all the players he just met for fun.
* (episode 6) At another point, someone got murdered and he cares to find the criminal for no given reason, while everybody else in the whole game doesn’t give a damn about it. Contradiction!
* He is also such a hypocrite. He always rushes to capture players who break the rules when himself is a beta tester, and thus a cheater.
* Later on he is not even doing that, since he becomes a detective who lets the criminals go away. He seemed pretty serious in imprisoning simple bandits but then doesn’t care to arrest murderers. Supposed they were too powerful to attempt arresting them but we are never told that so you can again assume anything you like. That still doesn’t excuse how he spared one of them who admitted the crime and was very weak. He literally left him to be scolded by his companions and that’s it.
- He can use special abilities nobody else in the game can. The thing is, he refuses to use them all the time, supposed because he doesn’t want others to find out and pest him about it. In reality of course he doesn’t because every battle will end in two seconds if he does. And that can also lead to some facepalming cases of forced drama, such as letting people die instead of using his powers right away (episode 9). So much for caring about saving lives! The hilarious part is that eventually everybody found out about it. Guess what; nothing of importance happened. Later on he is supposed to fight hundreds of powerful monsters and again refuses to use his abilities. Why? Because he forgot he had them! Hilarious!
- On top of everything else, he is also a great hacker who even manages to alter the game’s programming. An element they mentioned only for ten seconds but never cared to elaborate ever again.
- And despite his elite powers in videogames, he still makes mistakes not even rookies would accomplish. At one point he needs to go on a rescue mission, and begins the journey without the slightest preparation. He has infinite amounts of wealth and never buys better equipment or even a second sword for his special skill.
- He is not even a believable character. He is closer to a plot device and wishful thinking for the dork audience. All he does is being the best in everything, solves all mysteries, beats all the monsters, wins all the chicks, and saves the day while shovelling us with forced preachy monologues about how the game works. Every gamer’s dream.
- Hell, the videogames themselves do their best to make him immune to defeat.
* The first game picked him to be the chosen one, so it makes sure he gets a Deus ex Machina every time he is about to lose.
* The second game lets him become the most powerful player of them all, as soon as he begins playing.
- And for God’s sake, his nickname in the game is the black swordsman. How do they dare naming this pussy after the most awesome Berserk protagonist? This is an outrage!
Asuna, the main harem girl, is a beautiful girl who falls for Kirito. Why? Because everybody finds out he is a manipulating cheater, and she is a dumb broad who loves to be exploited.
- She likes to roam around while wearing a cloak that hides her face. That doesn’t help in any way since nobody is chasing her, and by hiding her face she only attracts more attention on her. DERP!
- She becomes the second in command in the most powerful guild of the game (and as always, out of screen). How the hell did this bimbo become no.2, has a level of around 70, and controls a guild of hundreds of players? You can just imagine how dumber everyone else playing the game is. Or how easy it is to level up without dying from stupidity.
- They are constantly trying to present her as strong and dynamic, when she otherwise acts like a total idiot and is incapable to do the slightest thing when Kirito is around. Misogyny anyone?
* Her escort turns against her? KYAAA FIGHT HIM FOR ME KIRITO!
* Her leader tells her she can’t have a day out? KYAAA FIGHT HIM TOO KIRITO!
* Sees a girl in a forest? KYAAA GHOST, SAVE ME KIRITO!
- And despite all the above, she acts like a typical tsundere that makes no sense!
* She scolds Kirito for taking a nap before an important battle and proceeds to take a much longer nap RIGHT NEXT TO HIM!
* She drops on Kirito, then slaps him and says it was his fault that SHE TRIPPED!
* Kirito asks her where he can spend the night? She assumes that means he wants to fuck her AND UNDRESSES!
* He says he doesn’t want to have sex with her and she punches him for not seeing her AS A FUCKHOLE!
* She tells him how much she cares about him when he is sleeping and acts completely shy WHEN HE WAKES UP!
* She tells him not to look at her panties even after she had sex with him A HUNDRED TIMES! (out of screen of course)
- Guess where she was spending all her skill points all this time. On cooking! Instead of going for a more useful ability that would make her a better spy or fighter, she wasted all her skills on something that is completely worthless in the whole game! And they actually made this monkey their second in command! And what a surprise, the only person she ever cooks for is the protagonist. SAVE ME MY MOLESTER! AND THEN AS REWARD I WILL COOK FOR YOU! Fate/Stay Kitchen you bitch! And fetch me a sandwich while you’re at it.
- And let’s not forget all those sappy moments where she gets all emotional. Oh, I wanted to kill myself with the artificial date sim way she was talking. “I believe in you Kirito! I will kill myself if you die! I can’t exist without you!” And God, the way she was acting for a married woman was horrible! She still acts like she is a naive little girl who is afraid to show her own husband her virtual panties. And guess what, she doesn’t even know how old the person she married is!!!
- As if all that weren’t enough, in the second half of the show she turns from a (supposed) dynamic woman, to a powerless damsel in distress who is constantly raped by a jerk and needs Kirito to rescue her. How typical, making women useless in shonen despite all their bravado a few episodes ago.
Sugu, main love rival and harem girl no.2, is Kirito’s cousin and adopted sister. And she is in love with him because this is what all sisters are obligated to do in harem shows.
- She is supposed to be strong both physically and mentally, but as soon as Kirito is around she can’t even breathe without him coming to her rescue.
- Turns out that she is also playing MMOs, despite the fact that her own brother and thousands of others were killed or in coma because of them. And yet she acts as if it was never much of an issue and just was curious to see what was so special about them.
- Check this out, as soon as Kirito enters the game, the very first person he meats by complete chance and immediately runs to save is her. Try to calculate those odds.
- Furthermore, even after she meets him, she doesn’t recognise him, despite having the exact same voice, nickname, and fighting style.
- She doesn’t even raise an eyebrow for any of the above. Not even when a seemingly new player has enough power to defeat four others without much effort.
- Best lolling part yet. She otherwise falls in love with him, EVEN in the videogame and without knowing who he is.
Yui, the obligatory moe character. She is an AI, and a direct rip-off from Aura in .hack. She acts as if she is the game-based child of Kirito before revealing to be a rogue program who fell in love with him (the platonic type) because he is the protagonist (of course!). And even saves him from a monster with her hax skills before she turns into a moeblob accessory. Very fitting for how gamers view women in games.
- Later on she returns as a guiding pixie, like that annoying thing from Legend of Zelda. Best troll of the show is how despite not being part of the new game, she is magically intergraded into it, like it was a very easy thing to do, because supposed she shares the same programming as the previous game. And at the same time she DOESN’T have her hax skills anymore for no apparent reason. Bullshit!
- Afterwards she becomes a pocket Wikipedia just for the sake of advancing the plot without the hero having to bother searching or asking around for information. There isn’t a thing she doesn’t know; she can point you to the right direction, the proper person, and even calculates the exact distance and time to get there. This trashed completely the sense of mystery and adventure the first arc had.
- She also becomes a psychiatrist of sorts, as she constantly tries to offer explanations to why people love each other and what it means to care about someone, and other cheesy stuff like that. And she does it from the perspective of a stupid child, so it passes as nothing more than yet another effortless attempt to make the show deep when it’s a pile of shit. Her line of thought makes no sense and they are actually paying attention to her.
- Towards the end of the show, she all of a sudden has admin access once again. Why? Because they were running out of episodes and the protagonists wasn’t hax enough to win in a few episodes.
The person who was responsible for trapping everyone in the game doesn’t even have a reason for doing it. Meaning, the whole thing happened because someone was feeling like being a douche. Facepalming.
- As usual of course the fandom was making its best to try to reason that and before you know it, all of a sudden this guy is a prophet! He warned people for the dangers of MMOs and how they can be abused by men in power, as it was proven in the second half of the show. Too bad nobody in the whole world gave a damn, since people kept playing these games like nothing of importance had happened.
- He also didn’t kill anyone, since he only trapped them; those who died killed themselves with their actions. That’s right people; you are not a murderer if you give guns to killers. You are just a douche who wants to have fun.
- And don’t go asking yourselves why wasn’t anyone from the outside world able to hack into the game and capture this asshole for years. The game was simply unhackable… until Kirito tries that is; and does it in three seconds.
- Also towards the end of the show this guy is somehow becoming a hero for helping the protagonist with another deus ex machina he conveniently gave to him in the last minute when he could otherwise do it all along. Yeah, let’s disregard all the deaths he caused or how he had no bloody reason for doing it in the first place.
The second villain is ten times as worse. He is a jerk busyness man who will act like a complete lunatic every time he describes his plans and demands to rape a comatose girl because he has enough money. Screw human rights and laws, I HAVE MONEY. And will be kind enough to act like a jerk and constantly explaining all his satanic masterplans in a most honest way and in front of the protagonist. What was his important reason for revealing such crucial information to a nobody civilian? Why, so we can all hate him 2 minutes after he is introduced of course! Deep and well-thought characterization right there!
- And despite his constant gloating, his showdown with the hero will be the most anti-climactic thing in the whole show. At least the first villain posed a severe thread and was very hard to beat. This one was weak and was wasted without an effort… with some aid by the hacking skills of a ghost! Yeah, tactics are so good, ain’t they?
- Of course you are never to wonder why he never knew there was such a thing in his own game, or why it didn’t do anything about it all this time.
The rest of the players are equally dumb. For example they get very annoyed if someone is trying to hoard all the special items for himself. They even call cheaters all the beta testers of the game just because they have an unfair advantage over the rest by knowing most of the attack patterns of the monsters. And this is seen as a bad thing… ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Your lives are at stake and you are seriously complaining about fair play? You must do anything it takes to clear the game fast and easy! Screw fair play! So what if a guy has all the cool weapons and can warn you about the tricks of each boss fight? You intend to keep some rare sword for yourselves in a game you just want to run away from? No matter how much you fight to get a super weapon, you do it so you can escape this damn game. You are not even going to take it along with you in the real world like they do with superpowers in AW or some other crappy show like Esthetica of a Rogue Hero. You can be a level 9999 twelve winged radiating motherfrakking god by the time you complete the game and you will still be the same weak dork you always were in real life. Not to mention you will be weakened even more by all the years your body didn’t move. So why the hell are you so angry for losing something you can’t keep no matter what you do? In fact you will feel better for not wasting endless hours risking your life just so you will be a super god in the game, while knowing very well you will lose it all when you leave it.
- And don’t anyone dare say they perhaps do it to prove their worth by winning fair and square. Nobody wants to do that if he is forced to play a death game! You are kept away from real life! Your relatives are getting crazy from grief! You can die! WHO CARES ABOUT CHEATING! CHEATING IS GOOD! In fact, everybody should do the same and use as many cracks, cheats, hacks, or whatever else they can find. It would normally ruin a game if some abuse the rules like that but in this case this is not entertainment anymore! You don’t care about having fun beating the game; YOU JUST WANT TO BEAT IT!
- And speaking about fair play, there are guilds in the game as usual. Each one goes on its own missions and gathers its own items and experience. After all I have described so far, DOES THAT MAKE ANY SENSE??? In such a situation there shouldn’t be guilds, sides, teams, rivals, or whatever. Everybody should be a single team and working for the common good of everybody. They should all go to fight the same boss, instead of spreading out and have so many casualties. I mean the progression of the levels is as linear as it gets; this is not Skyrim where you can go anywhere you like and do things in any order you prefer. Why are they all spreading out like that? Stupid and unexplained.
- And instead what do we get? The top guilds killing each other just for the sake of getting random drops that resurrect the dead. Get it? They kill other players, so they can be the ones to fight a boss and hopefully get an item to resurrect them. Bullshit!
- And then we get the second game of the series, where again many players play it. They are not trapped in it but are very well aware of how it was created with the same game engine as SAO and was released a few months after it. Are they really trying to tell us that thousands of people, who knew very well that a much similar game caused the entrapment and death of several others, ARE NOT AFRAID? Hell, five people dying from a chicken disease was enough to spread world wide chaos for months and such an event is presented as something unimportant? BULLSHIT!
- Let’s just suppose for a second that they don’t care about the game having the same game engine. How about balance issues? The second game is broken and unfair and yet they don’t seem to care once again.
* Anyone who gets to the top of the tower will offer to his race a superior set of wings that will trash the game balance completely.
* There is a game feature that allows a player to change races. If a race gets the new wings, then everybody will immediately use the feature to become that race, thus ruining the whole purpose of having many races.
* There are no game masters to investigate possible cheating or hacking. Everybody can break the rules as he likes and nobody will do the slightest thing to stop him.
* There is another game feature that allows you to steal other peoples’ main equipment. Can you imagine someone stealing the sword you spent months trying to get? Who would possibly want to play such a game?
- I keep hearing excuses by some fans who claim all the above are reasonable because:
* the characters are teenagers and stupid, so they are ok to make mistakes. That is not saving it, since we see players of all ages in the game, and they are all equally stupid.
* most players in any MMORPG are retards and the series is just being realistic about it. That is not saving it either; if they are retards, how do they survive? Even careful players die twice a day in normal games and these idiots here just survive in an unforgiving death game. Everybody who is stupid should be dead and only the cunning and intelligent would remain alive.
* And let’s just go easy on it for awhile and assume the above does not matter. They are still not acting as typical MMORPG players, since the show is a harem. Really, just look how all the girls behave and then come tell me that real life female players are acting exactly like harem girls.
And now for the invisible uncaring people of the world!
- Thousands of players get trapped in a videogame and in the whole series nobody cares or does the slightest thing to help them.
- Thousands of players wake up after years in coma and not a single doctor runs to help them.
- Kirito saves thousands of lives and nobody cares about him.
- Thousands of survivors need to go through rehabilitation as means to be intergraded back into society without any physical or mental scars to ruin the rest of their lives and again NOBODY CARES and everybody is just working and having a normal life like nothing much happened.
And now some words regarding the rest of Kirito’s unofficial harem:
Sachi, harem girl no.3, was a minor female character that was very afraid of fighting and preferred to spend the whole game in the safety of the safe zones. It was a smart decision since there were lots of others progressing through the game very fast. She could just wait there for them to clear the game and free her. Instead of that the protagonist gives her courage to pointlessly risk her life in levelling up, which eventually leads to her as well as the rest of her team being killed in an ambush. What were her last words? “Thank you so much!” Yes, that makes sense; thank you so much for getting us killed for no reason. Character rewrite once again. Of course they try to present it as if she thanked him for being the only one who gave her courage to keep trying to survive instead of committing suicide or something but that doesn’t fool me. She got killed EXACTLY because he encouraged her and he is supposed to be an anti-social who doesn’t give a rat’s ass. Oh, and let me not forget to mention how she also had the hots for the protagonist for no apparent reason besides him being the protagonist. Thanks for another dumb whore you expect us to like mr. author.
Harem girl no.4, Silika the token loli. She managed to get all the way to level 45 by making all the deviant male players to be giving her healing potions and sharing their experience with her just for the sake of having her around and undressing her in their minds. That would normally make her a very manipulating personality, since she exploits people’s lust to have it her way. But no, she is a total dumb girl who doesn’t even know the basic rules of the game. Contradiction anyone? She doesn’t even know of Kirito, one of the most famous players of the game. And yes, she too falls for him because he exploited her emotions for capturing some bandits and doesn’t miss the chance to offer fan service by constantly flashing her panties and being molested by hentai-like monsters. Great respect for another whore there mr. author.
Liz, harem girl no.5, is a blacksmith who falls in love with Kirito for breaking her best sword and exploited her skills for getting better swords from her. She also claims to be an experienced player but all we see her be doing is being completely stupid in battle and in need to be rescued twice in ten minutes. Yeah, that is how you treat women in fiction.
By the way, the majority of the fanboys refuse to admit the show is a harem, because the protagonist has chosen a girl and all the rest of them don’t stand a chance. Yeah, tell that to Tenchi Muyo, Love Hina, and Ah My Goddess, the most famous of all harem shows who all have a secured couple right away, yet keep throwing girls at the hero’s face. Losers!
Reason of why SAO sucks No.5: The scriptwriter is terrible
His AW novels were also adapted to anime and were even airing at the same time as this one for awhile. And guess what, just like SAO, AW was also mostly guilty pleasure than quality writing or good characterization. It was also hyped for similar reasons and was also mocked by most after it turned out to be crap like SAO. So in case you disliked that one, you will dislike this one for similar reasons.
If you want more specific examples, just look at how he writes. Constantly introducing new characters and trying to make them dramatic before killing them or never mentioning them again in the exact same episode is just lame. If he wants us to feel sorry for a dying character, he should have kept him around for a dozen episodes so we get to like him first.
The plot is all over the place, to the point it has several time skips every few minutes. To give you an example, it begins with making the game appear extremely hard in level 1 but 7 episodes later they have cleared three quarters of it easily and out of screen. In the meantime, characters have gained new equipment, got lots of levels, and joined powerful guilds without ever bothering to show us how they managed to do all that.
Adding to all that we have some of the sappiest melodrama you can ever hope to encounter, forced tragedies and revelations that come out of thin air, just for the sake of superficial shock factor. What was the show called again Soap Art Operain?
Here is another proof of how crap these books are. The SAO series is currently 10 volumes long. One would think this means that the story is very long. And it’s not! SAO technically lasts only one book! The others are irrelevant side stories that happen in flashbacks or entirely different games! That’s right, the title SAO is practically useless after the first book. It’s there just so the idiotic fans will keep buying more books with its name on it. It’s like buying compulsory everything that has an apple on it. This happens because the author used the old “Bait and Switch” method. Being completely useless to keep a story going for more than a few chapters, yet unwilling to let it finish and move to writing something else, every time an arc ends he just finds a poor excuse to make another arc and start all over again, rehashing the exact same things. The characters constantly enter completely different games that are not called or played like SAO!
After all the aspects of the first game were presented (poorly and unbalanced as always), the only way for the gamers to keep being interested in such a show is to introduce a new game with new rules and start all over again to explain stuff. Something which happens four times! You heard right; the only thing this story does in order to keep you interested, is to present something in a rushed and superficial way before it resets the plot completely. If that is not enough for anyone to understand how shit the plot really is, then he is a retard.
And let’s be honest here; aside from anything I said so far, it is based on light novels. Meaning, stories written by people with little to no talent, appealing to people with no exposure to quality literature. Some of them may be smash hits and considered masterpieces amongst LN fans but try to give those books to veteran readers of literature and try to see what they will say about it. You won’t find a big enough rock to hide under. So don’t assume that because the SAO novels are currently considered to be THE BEST BOOKS EVER WRITTEN it automatically means they are good. They are not. They are simply glorified fan service in a similar way the Harry Potter and Twilight books were hyped in the past.
Reason of why SAO sucks No.6: Fan catering
Well, that is pretty much self-explanatory for why it makes the show bad. The plot is one huge pile of stereotypes aiming to appeal to gamers and dorks. The setting by itself is going to attract anyone who likes playing MMORPGs. It will make them to constantly be comparing it to various game mechanics, and since the game does a shitty job at explaining its gameplay, they will be talking about it for weeks. Before eventually they realize the game sucks that is.
Take the protagonist for example. He is THE BEST in everything. He has the highest level in the game, super skills nobody else has in the game, the most knowledge of how to farm easy, and can beat the strongest bosses all alone without even being prepared for it. No reason for why he is so good in everything; we are just supposed to accept he is super cool and wish to be like him. Well if you ask me he is completely boring for the same reason. He acts like a Mary Stue who always wins just because of his statistics reaching epic levels without ever showing us how. An overpowered character is a boring character exactly because there is no challenge he can’t overcome. He is also just there to give forceful explanations to how the game works, as if it’s too hard to just show it on screen. And despite the explanations, the game ill still make no bloody sense.
And the joke becomes bigger at how he is supposed to be an anti-social yet EVERY SINGLE GIRL IN THE GAME HAS THE HOTS FOR HIM. And he accomplishes that by being a complete jerk. He lies, exploits, doesn’t reveal crucial information, leads people to their deaths and every goddamn girl in the game finds out about that and her reaction is to beg him to bang her. Yeah mr. author, thanks for trying to make us feel like jerks who can get away with everything by identifying with this ass of a protagonist you are throwing at our faces. And thanks a lot for making him act as blunt and boring as possible so we can better get into his shoes. What was the game called again, Harem Art Online?
It goes further than this by having all the female players running around in mini skirts and constantly trying not to show their panties.
- And of course the animators made it impossible for girls to wear decent clothes.
- Oh, and not to forget to mention how they are constantly molested by tentacle monsters and crazy rapists.
- And how they can’t do anything right when Kirito is around so he will of course run to their rescue every single time with his amazing skills.
- And how they constantly forget to dress and walk out of their rooms while in their underwear.
- And how they never miss the chance to bend over and have the camera zoom to their asses. How was the show called again? Nice Ass Online?
I love how this more than obvious fan catering show is otherwise pretending to be serious and suspenseful by having double standards. It is supposed to make the viewer be afraid of the game but at the same time it wants to make him wish he was part of it.
- Imagine you being trapped in a fantastic world full of dangers and adventure, where you need to fight hard in order to survive! This is not a game, it’s as real as life itself! … But at the same time it’s still a game and everybody still acts like it is. You would definitely want to be there, right?
- Imagine you being the most awesome, most powerful, most smart, most sexy person in the whole world, and have all the girls in the world falling in love with you right away. But you stay faithful to an equally perfect, beautiful, sexy, tsundere wife who cooks and cries only for you. And imagine having cyber sex with her without worrying she might get pregnant. It’s the best life there is… But you also want to get out of there, because it’s a virtual world and your real bodies are withering! You would definitely want to be that man, right?
What kind of bullshit logic is this? It’s like hearing someone talking about how bad rape is but you otherwise love to see him constantly raping people. Meaning, this is a show for masochists. If not, it’s just self-insert, wish fulfilment nonsense that pretends to be SERIOUS AND DEEP when it’s otherwise as shallow as it gets.
Reason of why SAO sucks No.7: The director is useless
The director is Itou Tomohiko’s whose only previous full fledged directing work Occult Academy was dull at best. He kept the tradition alive by doing the same thing in this show; ie it doesn’t feel good to watch for long.
The scenes change randomly and people seem to be standing in a completely different position in each one. Even worse, secondary players magically disappear from the fighting scenes for no reason.
Half the duration of the first half of the show is about stand alone missions, which in the books were short stories without connection to one another. Each one of them ends up being nothing but an easy mission where the protagonist is showing off how cool he is and increases his harem. They are completely boring despite attempting to help us get to know the game and the secondary characters. It also creates continuity problems, since when the side story ends and the main story is back, people behave very differently, as if the previous events never happened and crucial information is mentioned only then and not earlier when they were supposed to know it all along.
The story was also badly adapted from the books.
- They took out several explanations regarding the way the game is played, and internal monologues which reason the mentality of a character in certain episodes.
- The girls are presented in a lot more harem-like way. They were turned from dynamic women who like the protagonist to fap material after his virtual cock.
- They took out the sex scenes and replaced them with several ecchi scenes where they simply make overused boob grabs and pantsu shots, followed by bitch slaps. And instead of “we had sex” they always say “we were playing for hours.” Great way to dumb down the good parts.
- The original script of the first arc was only one book long that could hardly fill half a season. The second book were just stand alone side stories that happen in between its various time skips. The director had the stupid idea of animating them in chronological order, which means that for several episodes you get a bunch of filler episodes which lack plot continuity and even have several personality inconsistencies.
Reason of why SAO sucks No.8: The action is boring
- The animation is done by Studio A-1 Pictures which usually cares a lot for character appeal and has good budgets. This is hardly one of their best works though; it has several scenes per episode where it is too crude. The artwork is definitely nice since it really feels like a fancy Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG). The animation is otherwise very poor; there is very little animation in it for a show that is supposed to be full of action and adventure. There may be battles in this show, but they are all dull and usually end in a few minutes. You are looking at static pictures and flashes that are substituting motions to the most part. Many times the battles aren’t even shown and are resolved out of screen or we fast forward after they are over. Hell, all battles are resolved through broken powers and deus ex machina asspulls. The emotional impact is lost because everything feels unexciting and completely convinient.
So after all these reasons, I can say nothing more than “screw this shitty anime!” If you want dark death games that look like a videogame, go watch Gantz. And if you want depth, stick to .hack. SAO is simply badly made. read more
Dec 24, 2012
Let me explain why. If there's something all of us can agree with, were that the first 2 episodes were good. They did not disappoint one bit. Now why do I keep saying only the first 2 episodes? Well, that's simple. Because the next montage of episodes didn't support the plot at all. The plot that was set up from the first 2 episodes, was that all of the players were trapped in the game, and dying in the game meant dying in real life as well, and that the only way to escape it would be to complete all 100 levels. That was the plot. Unfortunately, they seem to have completely forgotten about that, since after episode 2, the following are a bunch of side stories that really don't support the plot at all. If you're trapped in a game, and the only possible way to get out is to complete all 100 levels, wouldn't that be your biggest, and if not, only concern? Everything else would be below that priority. I don't think anyone would be fine with living inside a game for the rest of their life. So why do the next series of episodes have basically nothing to do with that?
Now comes another problem. The pacing. I'm sure most people thought the 25 episodes would be completely about the levels, bosses, the main antagonist, etc. Well, at least that's what I thought. And I couldn't have been more wrong. Silly me for thinking that they would focus more on the plot, rather then other things. As for the pacing, here's a major problem. The time skips. Before you know, a couple of months have already passed off-screen, and everyone has gotten used to life in the game. And I'm left with that "Wait...what just happened?" feeling. Now this wouldn't have been a major problem, had that been the only time skip, but unfortunately it isn't. The next time skip is 2 years later, and by then they've completed over half the game already. The moment I found that out, I was very mad and disappointed. Of course I knew they wouldn't show all 100 bosses, that would've taken way too long, but I expected at least maybe 7 - 15 bosses shown. It felt like the creators were in a rush to complete SAO, but at the same time, they handled it very poorly, because why didn't they, instead of having a bunch of side stories about side characters that will only be significant that episode, didn't they use those episodes to show them actually completing the game? Seriously, that would've worked way better. Instead of just giving it to us like one episode they're at level 1, then they're at level 20, then they're at level 75 already. Those aren't little jumps, those are huge jumps. I feel they could've handled it much better.
The main character, known as his SAO alias, Kirito, so that's what I'll be calling him, is involved in a lot of side stories during the next couple of episodes. Now I wouldn't have had a problem with the side stories if they were actually entertaining, or good, but they're not. Kirito's first side story, is personally the only tolerable side story out of all of them. Kirito was shown as a human, and by that I mean, he wasn't shown as some almighty powerful player, who acts as a white knight to save every damsel in distress, like he is in the rest of the anime. No, he was shown as a person who failed saving his group, and he was the only one that survived. Now that would make anyone feel terrible and guilty for it, so just as such, Kirito tries to find a way to revive them. Or I believe he was just looking to revive Sachi, not that sure since it's been awhile since I've seen it. Regardless, he was trying to bring someone back, because he felt it was his fault for letting it happen in the first place. That's really what anyone would do. Even though it does sound cliche, it was a good storyline. This episode wasn't as good as the first 2, but it was decent. If only this had been the only side story.
Once the montage of side stories are over with, sooner than you know, they're already almost done with the game, at level 75. And so many plot-holes occur there, that it would take way too long to list them all. Plot-holes are never a good thing, most anime do contain some, but usually they aren't that frequent, and usually they only contain minor plot holes that aren't that important, but SAO seems to have completely ignored that and just thrown in plot holes in left and right. You'll know what I mean after you see a certain episode.
Now for ALfheim Online, or better known as ALO. This introduced a new arc, and a new plot. My first problem is, the setting looks a lot like SAO. You would think it was SAO again because nearly everything is the same. The only major difference is that everyone are fairies. It seems they tried to make ALO as different as SAO as much as possible, by adding magic, being able to fly, and tribes, etc, but they failed to change the most important thing: The setting. However, the most important thing you should know that SAO had, that ALO doesn't, is that if you died in the game, you would die in real life. Now that made SAO a little bit interesting, because who would want to see players play a game where death meant nothing? That's kinda the only reason the first arc seemed interesting. The second arc doesn't have that, which makes it seem even less interesting than the first one.
Now the SAO arc was mediocre enough as it is, but compared to the ALO arc, it suddenly seems great. ALO made me think even less of the anime. Personally, I think they should've ended it when SAO ended. To be fair, I heard the creator was originally going to end it there, but he decided to continue it because of demand. Regardless if that's true or not, it doesn't excuse it to be even worse than SAO. Suddenly it felt like the side stories had come back, but they weren't side stories, they were just dragging things out by trying to make Kirito's and his cousin's relationship stronger, which wasn't that much. And no, I don't mean love relationship, I mean their relationship as characters. Because they did only have a couple of episodes to show them together, so they had to make their relationship seem more real.
The Characters.. Well, they were certainly something. Most of them didn't get any real growth, or character development. Even the 2 main antagonist, they didn't get any of that, which makes them generic, who were bad just to be bad. There are only like 5 characters that SAO actually cares about, because everyone else becomes irrelevant soon after they're shown. Their personalities hardly change, they mainly stay the same throughout the whole anime. None of them were interesting at all, and it seemed like they didn't get much into depth, as I feel they could've. (2/10)
The sound. Definitely the best feature of SAO, hands down. Very epic battle music, and I could listen to it for hours. The music really helped some scenes. The music made some scenes seem much more suspenseful, which I like. Sound is important, more than people like to believe. (8/10). Animation is good as well, not the best I've ever seen, , but it's pretty close. (7/10)
In the end, SAO is one of those anime, that had major potential of being great, but ended up being a major disappointment. Sword Art Online lacks a lot of things, and the biggest, and most important one, is better writing. The writers clearly had no idea what they were doing. read more
Jan 6, 2013
In the event that you've been living under a rock these past 6 months, Sword Art Online revolves around an online game that allows full immersion, that all of it's players soon become trapped in via the classic "you die here, you die in the real world" plot device. All the game's players are now trapped in a brutal survival game, as per a ton of other anime that you have doubtlessly watched at least one of before. SAO's first and most obvious fault even to someone who hasn't watched it would be that the premise is incredibly generic - it's just a cobbling-together of Mirai Nikki and .Hack, amongst others, and neither were very good to start with.
But for all my complaints with the series SAO scrapped itself together from, at least those series bothered with a coherent narrative. SAO's story is an inconsistent and appallingly-paced trainwreck, jumping through numerous ill-placed timeskips and sudden shifts in the style of the story in a way that is, to make an understatement of it, very jarring.
The series goes through several stages. The first is confined to episode 1, AKA the only good episode. It serves to set up the plot, and does a decent enough job of it. However, rather than following said plot, it quickly switches to episodic journeys through the world our protagonist is trapped in. In theory that isn't such a terrible idea, but any promise it had is ruined by drearily slow pacing, and more importantly, the most mind-numbingly flat Gary Stu viewer self-insertion blank slate of a protagonist you could possibly imagine. His sole character trait is that he is an extremely powerful player (worse yet, any development into such a powerful player happens offscreen).
Around the episode 9 mark, the actual plot starts to take place. Kirito, the aforementioned dullard emotion-bot protagonist, befriends Asuna, a similarly one-dimensional fellow player he met in an earlier episode, and through a series of events is dragged into joining her guild, who plan to take on the final boss of SAO. In the process of this, the two become romantically involved. Sorry, did I say the plot happened here? My mistake, it actually gets thrown out the window at the first hint of romance. The whole "escaping SAO" plot is put on hold for several episodes while Kirito and Asuna's romantic "subplot" takes over. This doesn't seem that bad until you remember that Kirito and Asuna are totally one-dimensional. Fittingly enough, their romance feels forced and completely fake. How they even "fall in love" is totally ignored - they just do.
Eventually, they get a move on with the damned plot, and *SPOILER ALERT* - everything comes to an extremely rushed and sudden conclusion (especially jarring due to how drearily slow everything was before), and they manage to beat SAO, in spite of some major leaps of logic involving how it actually happened. At last, everyone can escape this wretched game, and continue with their lives. Happy ending!
...Wait a tick. Why are there still 11 episodes left?
"Oh right, there's still good money to make off this series. We can't end it just yet! Let's draw it out a bit longer... I dunno, pull some bullshit subplot out of nowhere. Just make some stuff up."
In a nutshell, Sore Arse Online managed to drag itself out. Another online game, Alfheim Online, manages to get involved in the plot, using some leftover technology from SAO. Kirito has to enter this game as well, along with his sister (who is actually his cousin, which somehow makes the romantic siscon undertones not as bad).
...OK, I'll stop now. Anyway, the most generous thing I can say about his sister is that unlike Kirito and Asuna, she at least has a personality. For better or worse, since her personality is that of a completely insufferable melodramatic whining brat. She's not the only terrible character introduced in this arc, though... we also get the villainous mastermind behind Alfheim Online, who starts off overly and campily evil and just keeps getting more heinous from there. At every opportunity, the series will remind you that he is evil in new and terrible ways. You will quickly get the point, but SAO will keep shoving it down your throat. Even his eventual comeuppance is more uncomfortable than cathartic.
So there's SAO in four parts. It's an uneven, shifting, poorly-planned mess. It's characters are awful. It's plot is awful. It's pacing is awful. Short of it's decent production job, everything in SAO is awful.
I highly recommend you stay offline.
That pun was awful.
Final Words: More like BORED ART ONLINE, amirite?
For Fans Of: .Hack, Mirai Nikki read more
Dec 22, 2012
As we all know, studio A-1 is not known for action based anime. Most of their signature works are slice of life romantic comedies. The character designs are reminiscent of those in Working!! despite the fact that this show markets itself as a serious action fantasy series. Action scenes heavily utilized flash frames in order to cut corners. Most of the time, the viewers are just shown the expressions of the characters instead of what is actually happening to the scene as a whole. In some instances, frames from previous episodes were even reused. Saying that the visuals were underwhelming is an understatement.
The music department is one of the few redeeming qualities of this show although this is perhaps Kajiura’s most lackluster work in recent years. Some parts of soundtracks seem recycled right out of her recent works. Not to mention that sometimes, the music does not fit that particular scene. To put it simply, the music was nice, but lacks soul.
Up until now, we’ve covered the visuals and the music. Both aspects are mediocre at worst and are not bad enough to garner the negativity towards this show. So what went wrong? Well, obviously the leftover parts: the plot and the characters.
Truth be told, the premise of the story had potential. However, that raw potential was untouched and on top of that, was marred by absolutely horrid execution in terms of storytelling and progression. An easy phrase to apply here is “show, not tell”. Several backstory filler episodes were carelessly dumped into the beginning of the series giving the impression that the writers didn’t care enough to put in the effort in order to integrate those side stories nicely into the series. To add insult to injury, those episodes were rushed. It’s pretty ridiculous how the progression would have seemed smoother and more acceptable if the content was cut. And as the viewer continue watching, the story becomes a mass of plotholes rampant with tasteless fanservice that are randomly thrown in; In particular, the breaking of game mechanics written in cold, hard code at the convenience of the main characters which will be covered in the next section. Again, this is just very contradictory considering the fact that this show is trying to get viewers to take it seriously. You really have to wonder if the writers have forgotten that this is supposed to be a story about an MMORPG.
Now we come to the last nail in the coffin: characters. Overpowered main characters are not uncommon and there are generally no problems if they are done well. Sword Art Online, unfortunately, did not handle this trope with expertise and fell into the trap where the main character bends plot more than gravity stretches time. Kirito is a walking deus ex machina. He can do and experience things that are impossible according to previously shown game mechanics. His personality and traits also changes according to the situation such as being a fumbling idiot one moment yet two minutes later he is soloing mobs while spitting out cheesy phrases from some Clint Eastwood movie. He simply does not leave a lasting impression other than his role and abilities in the story. Take away his dual wielding abilities and what do you remember him for? Nothing. On top of that, the story gives no sense of excitement due to his overpowering presence. The viewer does not feel pressured to known what’s going to happen next since it’s a given that Kirito will resolve the situation with no problems. Asuna, on the other hand, was introduced as a strong capable female but turned into a damsel in distress under the influence of Kirito’s plot wielding; eventually becoming a fap fodder waifu character. What’s also not helping the cast is that there are no significant characters other than the main characters. Side characters are pretty much irrelevant given their almost nonexistent character development. It’s almost as if they are taking on an episodic approach to the characters despite the fact that this story is supposedly linear with a clear objective or ending in mind.
The final verdict? A three out of ten. This is taken into account the fact that I've changed into a masochist and this show has given me enjoyment and gratification with it's absolutely tortuous delivery. You really have to wonder if fans of this show love the premise of the series or the series itself. Perhaps this show would have done better if it chose a simply fantasy setting instead since it obviously wasn’t adeptly incorporating elements of an MMORPG. In the end, Sword Art Online is a show that can present the who, what, when, and where with efficiency but fails completely to explain how and why I should bother giving a tiny rat’s ass.