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25 of 25 episodes seen
Akira Toriyama, widely known for the mature tone and complex plots that his productions always have, really stepped it up this time to make a masterpiece. From beginning to end, Sword Art Online always sticks to its brilliant premise: The art of sword fighting in the online universe. Even when they transitioned to elf heim online for the second half, the creators never tried to make the show something that it isn’t. Sword art online is a success story of a promising premise developed correctly. If you liked the trailer/first episode of Sword art online, I guarantee that you won't be disappointed by the rest of the anime!
The first half of Sword Art Online was an emotional roller-coaster where I was laughing, crying, angry, frustrated, skeptic, thoughtful, scared, and horny all in the same scene, kind of reminiscent of the time I watched The Wiggles, another notable work from Toriyama. Above all else, it was well planned. I did not feel the main plot was rushed or brushed to the side like I do in some other anime. The pacing was chronological and consistent. The plot twists were also really key in driving the story; they were unpredictable and entertaining, always leaving me wanting more. Perhaps the best part of the story was the fact that, unlike many other anime, SAO does not leaving anything unexplained. All plotholes are artistically packed and sealed with undeniable logic and realistic reasoning.
Toriyama, when asked in an interview how he initially came up with the idea of a second arc, gave a proud smile and replied "Well I was reading my favorite book, The City of Bones from the Mortal Instrument series, a real philosophical classic, when I thought, what if I take the heart-rending incestuous love in this book and apply it to anime? And thats exactly what the second half of the anime is." The second half of the anime is widely acclaimed as even better than the flawless first half and completely necessary (like Deathnote). Toriyama, when asked in an interview why Kayaba decided to entrap the minds of thousands of gamers rather than just live life as a revered multimillionaire inventor, gave a proud smile and stared at the interviewer.
There has been a misconception that Sword Art Online has elements of romance. That is false. Sword Art Online is 100% action; the glory tale of a dedicated gamer on his way to the top (of the tower). As the epic feats accumulate and the bosses get stronger, a deeper, more intricate plot unravels itself. The sheer amount of testosterone radiating from this anime makes girls grow biceps on their arms and guys grow tumors on their testicles. It should be stashed away and protected as a classic epic to be shown to aboriginal children during their ceremony into manhood.
The art in Sword Art Online is good. No seriously, it’s well-animated and decently drawn. It was flashy and pretentious, but maintains a solid MMORPG feel. Some of the female characters could have been more uniquely identifiable; My memory of most of the secondary female characters in the side plots which take place episodes 1-25 are strictly limited to cliche anime eyes, underage, annoying squeeky voice, and either a color topic of purple or red/pink.
The sound was fantastic, especially in the dub!
I really liked the way all the female characters sounded unique from one another as they all asked Okazaki, I mean kirito, help them with their problems. In fact, sometimes, when I go to sleep at night, I can still hear their voices calling to Kirito:
"Hey, listen! Hey, listen! Hey listen!"
Ahh what a wonderful sound that is.
The battle music was really good too and one particular opera song had an odd knack for predicting what your favorite drinks are.
The characters are where this show really shines. It was a really good move by Toriyama to make the main character someone the intended audience could connect with. Kirito is just your average gamer: Smart, fit, talented, good-looking, chick-magnet, badass, and probably going somewhere in life. At level 36, all basement-dwellers evolve into Kirito, it’s just a matter of time.
In terms of development, SAO easily has the best character development I've seen in years. Kirito starts as an over-powered, over-knowledgeable introvert and ends as an over-powered, over-knowledgeable introvert. Asuna starts from an independent, mysterious anti-heroine and ends as a dependent, predictable damsel. Akihiko Kayaba starts as a genius multi-millionaire inventor and ends as a butterfree.
The love between Asuna and Kirito felt really real! I felt like I could really connect with their relationship because in middle school I had a similar relationship to that of asuna and kirito with my pet parrot. On the surface we were strangers and cold to each other but when I fed her tasty bread with special dipping we got closer. We spent more time together and even got married. Eventually we slept with each other and gave birth to tinkerbell.
The villains are also ruthless, manipulative, cunning, yet connectable.
One of my acquaintances told me he had a gut feeling that he wouldn’t enjoy the anime. I promptly shot him in the gut and knocked him unconscious with a quick blow to the temple. As he lay there, unconsciously bleeding to death, I softly whispered to him that I enjoyed the anime while holding his intestines in my hands. He now lies at the bottom of a nearby lake, gutless.
All in all, Sword Art Online 100% lives up to its hype and easily deserves more fans than it has right now. If you liked sword art online, you have great tastes and are probably a functional contributor to society. Other forms of entertainment you might like include Lemon Party and Maplestory.