Nitsujcember Part 32: Sword Art Online (SAO)

It’s the review you’ve all been wanting me to re-take a look at, SAO. Yeah when this anime first came out it was the talk of the town. Everybody loved it, praised it, called it the best anime of all time but now everyone hates on it but is it really deserving of so much hate? No, it deserves some hate but not as much as we give it. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s take a look at this series.

So as we all know the story goes like this, in the near future virtual reality games have dominated the videogame market and the newest game SAO has hit the selves. Kirito along with a bunch of other players all log in to play the game but once they try to log out they find out they game. They find out that the game’s create has trapped them inside in game and the only way to get out is to beat the game by clearing all 100 floors. To make matters worse if they die in the game they die in real life. Like I said before in my review the first half is really good. I like the setup, the story, and the characters. I like how Kirito is this badass loner who winds up falling in love with another badass girl and he goes on to defeat the game saving everyone. I really have no problems with the first half of the anime out of Kayaba not giving a solid as to why he did what it, it’s the second half where all the problems start to a rise for me. In the second half Asuna along with a few more players are still asleep and haven’t woken up yet. Kirito also finds out that she’s being married off to some asshole named Sugou despite being in a coma. He then finds out that Asuna is being held captured by Sugou in the newest VR game ALO so he dawns his VR headset again and journeys into ALO to save his girlfriend/wife where along the way he teams with Leafa another player who just happens to be his cousin in real life who has a crush on him and when they find out who they really are it’s a hilarious moment in my book. While the second half has the better villain as you really just can’t stand Sugou it messes up on everything else. First off, Kirito doesn’t really develop as a character. It’s within the second half that we all start to see Kirito as a bland and generic anime character who’s only defining trait is being a badass nerd who gets all the girls at the end as well as a harem. Asuna also doesn’t go through any major character development. If anything they take a step back with her character. In the first half they built her up as this independent woman who could take care of herself and get out of trouble without needing any help. Here, she turns into a damsel in distress who doesn’t do nothing and just waits to be saved. It’s insulting to her character. Other problems are we never get to explore the world of ALO as much as we did SAO, we only get to see a few races, and we never really got a feel for the magic combat in this world. I honestly think the first half should have been the whole season and the ALO arc should have been like a movie or two.

Here’s how I would of done it. Kirito discovers that Heathcliff is Kayaba. They have their fight but Kayaba beats Kirito and instead of killing Kirito he keeps him and everyone else alive so they can continue playing the game and getting stronger because he wants to keep the game going. He takes his leave and says he’ll face them on the 100th floor. Everyone is shocked and discouraged that possibly the strongest player in the game is the final boss but Kirito gets back up despite his lost and continues to move forward vowing that he’ll get stronger and defeat Kayaba. This encourages everyone else and once again they all battle through the rest of the floors where they get stronger and we have the final showdown between Kirito and Kayaba where Kirito beats him, frees everyone, and we end the season with Kirito struggling to his feet and going off to find Asuna as the credits roll. That’s how I would of end the first season, on that scene. He’s tired, exhausted, and weak yet he continues to keep going to find the one he loves. It feels you with courage, uncertainty, and hope for the future and leads to the set up for the ALO arc which as I said before I would have turned into a two-part possibly three-part movie.

This was a review I was really excited about doing because I’ve been playing videogames my whole life and seeing an anime focus on the idea of getting trapped in the game always intrigued me and even when I first watched the anime I was already thinking up jokes and comments. I might have changed a few jokes and comments here and there to sound funnier and fit the situation more. This review also took longer than my other reviews as I was writing this review around the holiday season where I was busy with my job and working like 10 hours or more each day so I was pretty burned out half the time but knew I had to focus and finish this series. I honestly didn’t think I was gonna make it in time but by some miracle I managed to pull it off but both parts and deliver. The original score for this anime was 7.5/10 but after looking back at it and analyzing it more on what it could have been as well as seen other animes in this genre pull off the story better I would have to give this anime a score of 6/10 if I was reviewing it today. The first half is a great, the second half would of worked better as a movie series, and what could have been a very emotional ending to the first season gets ruined by the second half. Along with that, the lack of character development on our two main characters is a huge letdown for me and I was mad that they didn’t show how the other characters such as Liz, Silica, and Klein were doing after the events of SAO. But there’s no sense in complaining about what could have been done, all we can do is move forward and hope for the best. SAO isn’t a bad series. It’s not as great as we originally thought but it’s not awful. It has a lot of mistakes but the stuff it gets right it gets right. It opened the door for virtual reality animes as well as a fantasy world animes and I think we can all agreed that was a good thing.

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