English: Sword Art Online II
Synonyms: Phantom Bullet, SAO II, Sword Art Online 2, SAO 2
Japanese: ソードアート・オンライン II
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Jul 5, 2014 to Dec 20, 2014
23 min. per episode
PG-13 - Teens 13 or older
L represents licensing company
Score: 7.831 (scored by 75803 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
No tags found
SynopsisOne year after the SAO incident, Kirito is approached by Seijiro Kikuoka from Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications Department "VR Division" with a rather peculiar request.
That was an investigation on the "Death Gun" incident that occurred in the gun and steel filled VRMMO called Gun Gale Online (GGO). "Players who are shot by a mysterious avatar with a jet black gun lose their lives even in the real world..." Failing to turn down Kikuoka's bizarre request, Kirito logs in to GGO even though he is not completely convinced that the virtual world could physically affect the real world.
Kirito wanders in an unfamiliar world in order to gain any clues about the "Death Gun." Then, a female sniper named Sinon who owns a gigantic "Hecate II" rifle extends Kirito a helping hand. With Sinon's help, Kirito decides to enter the "Bullet of Bullets," a large tournament to choose the most powerful gunner within the realm of GGO, in hopes to become the target of the "Death Gun" and make direct contact with the mysterious avatar.
Related AnimeAdaptation: Sword Art Online
Prequel: Sword Art Online: Extra Edition
Summary: Sword Art Online II: Debriefing
Other: Sword Art Online II: Sword Art Offline II
Characters & Voice Actors
Sword Art Online (SAO) is a franchise that I’ll guiltily admit that I enjoy. As one of my first or gateway anime, I have a soft spot for the show. If I had to describe the first season, I’d describe it as charming. Despite a distinct lack of character development and an unsteady delivery of its content, SAO was nonetheless an entertaining anime to watch. So how did the second season hold up against my expectations? Honestly, it was mostly a disappointment, but it got better at the end.
- Strong and consistent level of animation and sound
- Last arc is relatable and emotional, which is a testament to the improvement in character development
- Faithful adaptation of the light novel
- Characters are cast into fanservice roles, inconsistent character development
- Story can be both unfocused and circular, unsteady pacing and fluctuating arc quality
- Lack of memorable battles, particularly in the final episodes of the GGO arc
Many of SAO’s detractors will immediately point fingers at the plot and they weren’t wrong. It was a tale of two halves, deflated by plot holes and a straying storyline. SAO II is no different. While I understand that the anime is a faithful adaptation of the light novel (LN) for the most part, I still feel that writing is one of SAO II’s shortcomings. As it adheres to the LN plot, I will avoid comments such as “why is Kirito playing a VRMMORPG again”. They’re part of the LN plot and, as a result, aren’t really valid for criticism, even if they’re a bit unconvincing. If you are a person that needs every plot element to be justified, this franchise is not for you.
The first arc of SAO II, Gun Gale Online (GGO), was particularly disappointing. SAO is a franchise that is characterized by the exploration of virtual worlds and the idea of immersing oneself in this reality, however GGO struggles to forward these themes. The sole setting of the arc is more or less the battle stage of the Bullet of Bullets tournament. This immediately deprives the anime of the chance for any sort of adventure and world exploration. A raid boss battle is only animated through Sinon’s flashbacks and it is a fleeting moment. The GGO world is never truly explored, leaving my only impression of it as very dull and grey. I wish we could have seen more of it. If the virtual reality world hasn’t been explored, then what really has been going on? GGO has a markedly different tone than its predecessor and focuses heavily on its characters. The main theme pushed forward is guilt. Sinon and Kirito spend most of the fourteen episodes discussing this topic and, although I think it is nice that the characters are given some development, it detracts from the enjoyment. The same dialogue is repeated and the writer ends up beating on a dead horse – we got it the first time. SAO was never an introspective anime and it didn’t really do a good job here. Furthermore, SAO is primarily an action anime, yet GGO doesn’t really have that many memorable battles. Swordfights are always more intense than gunfights, as melee combat is more interactive whereas pulling a trigger is impersonal, so the battle scenes don’t feel as special in comparison. It doesn’t help either that there is no true cumulative or final battle. It just seemingly ends as fast as it started, as the culminating battle is both short and weak. In fact, the final reveal is even sketchier than you’d think, as the last bad guy is nearly as creepy as the second villain in the first season! A darker plot does not necessarily equate to a deeper story and the shift away from action-adventure in GGO lead to a disappointing arc.
Caliber is a short side story inserted as the second and middle arc in SAO II’s chronology. To me, this arc is by far the weakest. The plot isn’t really developed all that strongly, given only three episodes to be fleshed out. The transition between the GGO arc and the Caliber arc is really jarring, being thrown in from one game to another and with the full cast of female characters suddenly present. The character and plot development that took place in GGO, such as Sinon’s guilt, are discarded and the atmosphere is very different, shifting back towards the exploration of a dungeon in ALfheim Online (ALO). Unfortunately, Caliber’s skeleton is bare to the bone and can mostly be regarded as a disappointing and empty filler arc.
The final arc in Sword Art Online II is the strongest, in my opinion. Mother Rosario (MR) is a character-oriented arc, similar to GGO. Although MR takes place in ALO, with Asuna helping the Sleeping Knights guild to defeat a floor boss, the true battlefront of the arc is in the real world. As aforementioned, SAO has always been about the immersion of oneself in a virtual reality (VR) and MR does exactly that. MR is driven by two underlying plot elements: the concept of VR as healthcare treatment and the struggles of a teenage girl to gain independence from her mother. While the first is interesting, the latter is the relatable one. This might just be a reflection of my own feelings, but I feel like many viewers can empathize due to our own parents not accepting our Internet usage or how the idea of an internet friend being somewhat taboo. The stronger relationship with the character only enhances the emotional plot twist to come, something I never really expected out of SAO. Coupled with better-animated battles, namely the one between Asuna and Yuuki (the leader of the Sleeping Knights), and a relatable plotline, MR is a surprisingly strong arc and is able to both provide both action and plot depth.
SAO II seems to be created in response to the criticism that there is no character development in the first season. Its two main arcs, GGO and MR, are both character driven arcs. Despite this focus, the result is a mixed bag.
In GGO, the two characters that are given the most development are Kirito and Sinon. Despite all the time spent on their shared trait of a guilty conscience, the two characters are still very thin. The dialogue regarding their guilt is circular and the writer fails to make it memorable, relatable, or deep. Moreover, Sinon is often depicted in slightly suggestive positions and from dubious camera angles when speaking, which detracts completely from any sort of empathy we had for her. In fact, the Caliber arc relegates Sinon to a cheerleading role, which just solidifies the notion that she is nothing more than a pretty face and fanservice material. As a result, all the character development in GGO goes to waste and it falls flat on its face.
MR does what GGO failed to do, in my opinion. Asuna is the major beneficiary of the arc, as her character finally gets some much-needed backbone. Cast as a damsel in distress by the end of the first season, Asuna struggles with her mother’s rejection of her virtual reality and the friends she has made there. Virtual reality is nothing more than a distraction from studying, marriage, and life in general, to her mother, but to Asuna, who has lived years in that world, it is her ‘real’ world now. Through the events in MR, the viewer gets to see as Asuna finds her voice and breaks free from her family’s suffocating expectations. Asuna goes from a character that is both trapped in the show and literally, due to the viewer never truly connecting with her, to a character that learns to ‘live’ again (through the support of VR) and that is much more human.
SAO II has improved its artwork slightly from the first season. It is pretty and the battles are well animated. The animation of each character has been refined a bit, which shows in the combat scenes, and their designs have been polished as well. It should be noted, however, that there are less battle scenes than the first season, which results in the quality of artwork and animation not always being displayed to its full potential. Similarly, the GGO arc is set in a very grey environment, which is a far cry from the vibrant colours presented in SAO. This is a slight detraction for me, but one has to give credit to the artists for being able to capture both the metallic sheen of GGO and the colourful palette in ALO. The animated sequence to the opening of the MR arc, Courage, is both lively and clean, but none of the other opening or ending sequences really stand out to me. In fact, the ending sequences are mostly made up of still frames, which is a bit disappointing considering the quality of animation in the rest of the show.
The quality of the sound is the same as the first season. Even with the additions of Miyuki Sawashiro and Aoi Yuuki, the level of voice acting has not changed. There are really no standout performances and the lines provided are extremely generic, however there is not a single voice that seems too out of place or that detracts from the enjoyment of the anime. Similarly, there is little to no change to the soundtrack, but this isn’t really a problem because it was never broken to begin with. Many familiar and fan favourite songs crop up again in SAO II. The OST does its job. It pumps you up when necessary and matches the mood well. As for the openings and endings, none are particularly spectacular, but all of them are solid and somewhat catchy songs. The openings are fast paced, up-tempo songs, whereas the endings are more ballad-like. I personally found the opening and ending to MR the better set, as the lyrics and animated sequences mirror the events in the arc particularly well. As a result, it both sets the tone for the episode and foreshadows the plot, which is a nice touch.
Enjoyment and Conclusion:
Overall, SAO II was a disappointing show for me. The first three quarters (GGO and Caliber) weren’t particularly well done in my opinion, while MR was a redeeming arc and a pleasant surprise. The art, sound, and battle choreography are all still strong, but the show suffers from inconsistency in its story and characters. I feel like GGO was never really cut out to succeed though, as, the plot is heavy on circular dialogue and introspective moments. MR did what no other SAO arc has done so far, that being developing their characters in a relatable way. As a result, SAO II deserves credit for doing so, as the major criticism of the show has always been its characters.
To me, SAO II is neither as good nor as bad as people make it out to be. In comparison to the other many anime in any given season, it is average and falls in the middle-front of the pack. It is clear, however, that this is not the SAO from the first season. It is not so much an adventure anymore, but rather it is a lot more dialogue based and to some that may be boring (or just silly when accounting for the plot inconsistencies). If you are a casual watcher, I don’t doubt that you may enjoy this. If you are a fan of the franchise, I don’t doubt that you may enjoy this. If you are someone that needs everything to be justifiable, then you are watching the wrong show and/or watched the wrong show. To the prospective viewer, by all means give this show a go and I hope you love it, but everyone should temper his or her expectations. There is bad that comes with the good in this anime. read more
**SPOILER FREE REVIEW**
*Sigh... What am I doing with my life? Seriously: What do I have to gain by bashing this show? I’m certainly not the first one to rip this anime and its inane hype train a new one and I definitely won’t be the last. Therefore, forcing myself to sit through yet another collection of incompetent pacing, plot points that make no sense what so ever, and an unbearable self-insertion protagonist doesn’t really seem to be worthwhile, does it? And yet here we are. Goddamn it… Ladies and gentleman: It’s fucking back
Synopsis: After restoring VRMMORPGs to their previous glory by being the total badass he is, Kazuto Kirigaya is approached by a detective who wants his help investigating the “Death Gun” incident. This incident is a recent event in which a mysterious user who goes by the SUPER original name of “Death Gun” somehow managed to kill another user in real life by merely shooting him in the VRMMORPG “Gun Gale Online”. Kirito agrees, enters the game, is instantly amazing at it (shockingly), meets a sniper girl named Sinon, and enters a big tournament with the hopes of facing off against the mysterious “Death Gun”.
Now, that plot summary probably makes the reader raise a few questions, such as: “Why is the police department recruiting a random highschooler with a documented history of VRMMORPG-caused psychological trauma?”, “Why does Kirito, the man who almost lost his life and witnessed others lose their lives in a video game, doubt so harshly the possibility of death through amusphere?”, or “Why God? Why is there a second season of SAO?” Well, unsurprisingly, none of those questions will be answered. However, that shaky premise is only the modest start to a slew of other problems that this show truly suffers from, and most of them are even worse than the first season.
Arguably the biggest flaw of the show is that the pacing is PAINFULLY slow. I’m not exaggerating; each episode covers about two sentences worth of plot. For a show that’s supposed to be centered around action, it is astoundingly boring this time around. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for the first four episodes to be condensed into one; then we would be talking. Unfortunately, the show never addresses this issue and smacks us across the face with filler as it drags itself out for as long as possible. It's unwatchable at times.
Another major issue is the fact that the plot no longer has any suspense and provides no reason for the viewer to care about what is happening. In SAO’s first arc, we at least had a reason to care about what was happening inside the video game because it was life or death; the stakes were high and lives were on the line. In THIS season, however, the only driving force for us to care about the virtual world no longer exists outside of spurts of laughably forced melodrama. As evidenced by episode 2, the show tries to be theatrical/dramatic in order to convince the audience that what is happening in the game is REALLY important when it so obviously is not. I kid you not; there is a scene in this episode where a full-grown man almost has a mental breakdown because his PH (player hunter) clan was losing a fight. …DUDE. IT’S A FUCKING GAME. We are forced to listen to Sinon (more on her later) give us a ridiculous, obnoxious speech about how logging out and giving up on the battle is “dishonorable”, AS SHE IS KILLING AND LOOTING INNOCENT PLAYERS. Yeah, real sense of “honor” you got there. This might have worked in the first season when the stakes were legitimately high, but when the setting of your story changes drastically, you must adjust the content accordingly! I mean, it’s not like I’m surprised that this show doesn’t make any fucking sense what so ever, but I still have to point it out. Overall, this is just an unbearably stupid plot, as per usual. Impossible to take seriously.
As for the characters… well... what can I say that hasn’t already been said about Kirito? He is made only to pander to male-power fantasies. He is amazing at everything he does, he gets all the girls, and he has no flaws what so ever, etc. Basically, you wish you were Kirito. He is made for the purposes of self-insertion, and while people who know anything about storytelling recognize that this is a SHIT way to write characters, Kirito has been instrumental to the show’s popularity. I HATE that this is the kind of character that becomes popular nowadays, but that’s part of the reason I am writing this review; if enough people don’t complain, it will continue to happen. Don't even get me started on the laughable ways that they try to get the audience to sympathize with him. The only other major characters this season are Sinon and Asuna. Let's start with Sinon, who is another completely worthless, helpless female for Kirito to add to his harem. The show tries to characterize her by describing her devout fear of guns, and I mean DEVOUT. This girl is apparently so scared of guns that she vomits all over herself just by glancing at a FAKE gun (‘cause that’s totally believable…). Now, you may be asking yourself, “How can someone who is so irrationally scared of guns be a top player in a super-realistic VRMMORPG that is obviously multiple steps above the intensity of holding a toy gun in your hands?” Well reader, shut up. This is SAO. Never question it again. …In all seriousness though, her entire backstory is just completely laughable because it doesn’t make any sense at all. One of the worst portrayals of PTSD I’ve ever seen in media. Any personality traits she may have been given eventually fade away into the same old harem-girl bullshit at the first sight of Kirito. Valiant effort, A-1, at least you are trying harder, but this character still sucks. As for Asuna, you already know the drill. A misogynistic object for Kirito to impress and presumably bang. She has an arc dedicated all to herself this season, and it's the cheesiest thing I've ever seen in my entire life. It's like SAO learned to write dialogue entirely through trashy romance novels. Very, very cringey. I won't say anything to spoil the villain of the first arc, but oh my god, if you are in need of a laugh, this show's midseason finale is a must watch. I was literally crying from laughter. That's how stupid SAO's villains are. Maybe worse than season one's.
In conclusion… It’s fucking SAO. If you liked the first season and were able to somehow overlook its ludicrous amount of flaws, then you will probably like season two as well. If you actually have standards, recognized how incredibly overrated the first season was, and hated it, you will also hate this season. To be fair though, the show is still well animated and the music is still great. I’m also willing to admit that SAO has a certain charm to it that shines through despite its major problems, which is probably the reason it has gotten so popular. Do I recommend this anime? No, not unless you are a young teenaged male, but it’s not the worst I’ve seen. read more
What the two have in common:
1. they both have the same plot where it involves the character's in a virtual game.
2. Both were sequels from their previous seasons.
3. Both still maintains the same character portrayal where they must fight to survive in the virtual world.
LH season 2:
Is merely a continuation of the previous season where the quest have leveled up.
SAO season 2:
Had some major development when it come to the characters and setting.
Both are considered to have the same major concepts of gaming in general. Moreover, the characters almost share the same goals.
Both were sequel of the season 1 of their respective animes, and boph almost share the same genre and settings, except of course one has some romance and drama while the other was completely an adventure kind of anime.
Bot are about people who gets into virtual game world. but while in Log Horizon they do it unwillingly, in Sword Art Online II they do it voluntarily. Both are action, adventure, fantasy, game and shounen. WHile Log Horizon is more "medival", Sword Art Online II is setted in a world where guns are main weapons.
Maintaining the theme of virtual world, the threat of death is not really an issue in this series since people can be revived however living in that world does have certain risks...
An online VRMMO game, based on living in a game and trying to survive.
Opening Theme#1: "IGNITE" by Eir Aoi (eps 2-13)
#2: "courage" by Haruka Tomatsu (eps 15-23)
#3: "Separate Ways (セパレイト・ウェイズ)" by Haruka Tomatsu (ep 24)
Ending Theme#1: "IGNITE" by Eir Aoi (ep 1)
#2: "Startear" by Luna Haruna (eps 2-14)
#3: "No More Time Machine" by LiSA (eps 15-17)
#4: "Shirushi (シルシ)" by LiSA (eps 18-24)
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