- Full Title: Sword Art Online
- Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Game, Romance
- Length: Television series, 25 episodes, 23 minutes
- Anime Studio: Aniplex, A-1 Pictures, Genco, DAX Production, Aniplex America, ASCII Media Works
- Director: Tomohiko Ito
- Original Creator: Reki Kawahara
An anime about online game. A very interesting theme that definitely attracted a lot of viewers especially online game players, such as myself. SAO is the most memorable and enjoyable anime I watched this year. Yes it is not the best and yes it has a lot of obvious flaws and inconsistencies. But hey! It has a lot of good points as well.
I watched the first arc of the anime without the knowledge of the Light Novels. As the weeks went on, I craved for Sunday to come faster. Every episode is very exciting. As a player myself, I know the feeling of leveling up, fighting mobs, making parties, fighting solos, pvp and etc. So I really enjoyed every aspect of SAO’s first arc. I even started a game and tried not dying even once. I succeeded till level 50 but eventually, I died. So I stopped (sigh).
The first arc started with side stories and the real plot only started at episode 8. The reason for this, aside for filling in for them to have 25 episodes, is for us to sympathize with those players not fighting in the front lines. Scilica, Lizbeth, Sachi and the Moonlit Black Cats guild members are the examples. The time skip became an issue for some anime viewers. It made the character developments look a little bit rushed. But hey, only the main events should be tackled and it is reasonable for them to skip the rest. I think they handled some of them really well.
Everything changed during the second arc. Everything became dull to me. The excitement was gone, as well as the anticipation for the next episode. Maybe because I started reading the novel or maybe it wasn’t that interesting anymore without “death” awaiting the players. Or both. Anyway, I still watched it and enjoyed the animation I couldn’t get out of a book.
The characters are just fine with me. Kirito, the main character, is not a very social person. His problem of not fitting in is what makes him drove into online gaming. An artificial place where no one really knows anyone else. He became one of the most powerful player in SAO, defeating even the final boss which is the creator of the game. In his two years inside the game, he met different people who eventually changed his outlooks in life.
Asuna, the heroine of the show, is also a powerful player of SAO. She doesn’t want to lose to the game so she kept on fighting in the front lines. She met Kirito and eventually fell in love with him. Their relationship seems a bit rushed but come to think of it, they were fighting dungeons for years so they know each other quite well. During the ALO arc, she became weak and save-me-my-prince-charming character.
We are also introduced with a lot of side characters. Sachi and the Moonlit Black Cats Guild which helped Kirito to become comfortable in a guild. They all died in the end which made Kirito angry with himself. Though we only see Sachi for one episode, I sympathize with her. Everyone is afraid of dying, and so she is. She questioned the game, where the weak will eventually die. Kirito comforted her and made sure to protect her. But Sachi knew very well that she will die in the end so she made sure Kirito will not blame himself.
Silica, the beast tamer and dagger user, was saved by Kirito during his haunt for a criminal in SAO. She helped Kirito to relieve his guilt from reality at the same time he helped her during her worst state. I can’t blame her having a crush on Kirito.
Lizbeth, the blacksmith, is Asuna’s best friend in SAO. She met Kirito and almost died during their hunt for sword material. She fell in love with him within a day. That is what I call a rushed development. She was looking for something “real” in that world, and Kirito was the one she found.
Then there’s Yui, their AI child. She played a major role in the ALO arc which helped Kirito in finding her mother. Then there are Klein, Kirito’s first friend and Egil, the merchant. Of course, the creator of the game, Kayaba Akihiko (Heathcliff).
Suguha, Kirito’s imouto who is apparently his cousin, was introduced during the second arc. She played online game a year before Kazuto woke up so that she would know why his brother was so inclined with online games. She became interested with it so she played ALO with Lyfa as her character. She helped Kirito during his search for Asuna. She learned that she love her brother, Kazuto, so she forced herself to fall in love with Kirito. However it is revealed that they are the same person.
There is also Sugou, the perverted antagonist of the ALO arc, who I hated with all my heart! Argh. I still can’t get over the irritation I have for him.
The visuals are astounding especially the setting of the show. It is very much like an online game and gives off that feeling. The character designs are also good. However, as the show progressed, the quality decline. I love the fight scenes, however most of the fight are screenshots so I was a bit disappointed.
The sounds are amazing. The opening and ending songs of both arc are catchy. It suits the anime very well. The background music helped build up the emotions the scenes are trying to convey. The voice acting is also good. I especially like the voice of Kirito’s seiyuu. And oh, I would like to commend Sugou’s seiyuu!
Overall, I really like this anime. Reading the stuffs above will make you conclude that I am a SAO fan boy for I mostly write about the good stuffs about the anime. However, for me the problem with this anime is with the adaptation. I am not saying that the novel is a masterpiece and that it doesn’t have some plot holes but most of the major disappointments in this show lies with the poor adaptation. I would recommend reading the novel for it will shed some lights for you.
Anyway, this was a great 25-week ride for me. I will definitely miss this anime. Oh, I’ve heard that GGO(Gun Gale Online) is better, I’ll try reading it for it will be the possible material for the second season, if there will be one.