Notice: I wrote a novel-wide rant about SAO and the word count does not help to post it all here. So read the whole thing in the following links:
Here is a link to our epic podcast regarding this show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1PBROnJT2c
Ah, Sword Art Online (SAO), how much I hate this show. Not because I am jealous of it being more popular and a much better seller than my favourite shows, but because it hardly deserves its hype and popularity. This is the most overhyped and overrated series of 2012, proving once again that the majority of the anime fandom is tasteless people who deify fan service and then try to excuse that by deeming everything as deep and quality writing. I am not kidding here; every time I was pointing out a weakness in this show while it was airing, I would have dozens of fanboys downvoting me, calling me names, and trying to excuse everything with imaginary proof that they made up on the spot. There was even a forum moderator who was deleting every negative post he could find and leave only the hyped positives remaining, thus giving off the impression to anyone reading the thread that nobody had something negative to say about this masterpiece of a show. Ok, the truth is he made a few exceptions; he left a few negative ones. Specifically, those he could prove wrong by quoting them and providing shallow reasoning, found in the realm of imagination.
At the same time these same wonderful people were bashing innovating and quality titles such as Shinsekai Yori and .hack//SIGN because they talk a lot and don’t show enough boobs. Aka, they are about context and subtlety instead of dumbass entertainment. Such is the sad state of the medium and you can imagine what type of shows they are telling the industry to make in the future. It was that retarded mentality that sort of 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. If the show wasn’t hyped so much by people with really 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 someone claims a show’s popularity is proof of its masterpiece status. I will be replying by saying “Oh yeah? Tell that to SAO.”
The premise is definitely interesting and I see why everybody would fall in love with it right away. Ten thousand players are trapped 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 VR 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 an amazing set-up.
- 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
- Thought provoking mysteries considering the reasons behind why they were trapped and how all that lead to some existentialism issues regarding the meaning of life and the value of morality in a fictional world
- Relationships, romance, and sex in cyberspace (yes, it has that too)
… 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. Many compare SAO to .hack and Log Horizon, since they too are about people being trapped in a videogame. Aside for the premise though, it has by far the weakest characterization, no philosophical ramblings, no amazing soundtrack, not even a good plot. It is about videogame nerd catering, and poorly presented terminology that is there just to offer familiarity with their hobby.
“Dude! It’s this anime about videogames! Yeah they play videogames and there is this amazing world and if they die they don’t respawn. And they are trapped inside and need to beat 100 super bosses! And there is this cool dude with a huge sword and all the girls love him and he is so tragic and-and… Dude! Videogames, big swords and chicks! Amazing isn’t it?”
Yes, it is amazing. As a basic idea! How about everything else? Like, let’s say, the plot? Or character development? Action? Romance? Or consistency in the rules of the game? That is why it got so hyped; it’s full of terminology that offers familiarity to the target audience. It’s like shonen fans who like Gintama a lot because it is constantly referring stuff from their favourite Jump Shonen shows. We are living in the videogame generation and SAO was made to appeal to this generation in a similar way Gintama did to the Big Three generation, or Twilight did to teenage girls, or Harry Potter did to little kids. And sadly that is the only thing it is doing right; since aside from familiarity everything else in it is pretty much shit.
There are many of course who refused to accept the show as nothing more than a good premise, loved it and hyped it as the best anime of all times. Many viewers only stick to the superficial elements of a series and don’t care about execution, thus they can make anything to seem like a masterpiece if it just looks nice. I mean, if you shut off your brain, I am sure it will fool you to think it is a masterpiece. But if you demand from it to be more than wish fulfilment and gaming fangasm, you will be greatly disappointed.
But even if you are thinking a bit of what the heck you are watching, it is still not enough to realize how bad it is, if you are not a critical thinker. It is barely exploring any of its interesting concepts, which again looks like a positive thing in the tiny minds of its fans, since they get this way to speculate for years over what the hell is going on. Plot holes, inconsistencies, character rewrites, and stuff that simply contradict each other are somehow excused as an elaborate mystery that is too smart to get it. It’s the exact 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 full of double standards and vague explanations. 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.
But heck, all that aside, 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. And it’s the same people who called this show the most original concept ever seen in anime, when in a span of just one year we had a long list of premises about 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, you watch Log Horizon for the game mechanics, and then you watch SAO 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.
Although in terms of production values the series has a good budget, 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. In a similar way, 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.
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 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.
(read more in the link provided in the beginning)
*Don't worry No Spoilers*
Lets see were to start with this amazing Anime...
Story: Alright the story... Now the story is pretty gripping and paced out nicely, the charachters develop well and the whole timing of the story makes sense. What is really great about the story is that it's not extremly predictible leaving some great twists and changes that effect the story throughout.
Animation: There is some really amazing art in this anime which truly brings the world to life in a way that I just can't take my eyes off, it's well thought out and wonderfully designed giving your eyes a nice treat!
Sound: now I'll start with the voice acting here. Lets start with an unpopular opinion (hey it's my review, so my opinions ;D) I love the dubbed version! Of course the subbed is great and it's completly up to you which is your preference but for me the dubbed really worked out and the voices sound perfect for each character. Now as for the OST (and I looooove OSTs more than anyone I know (maybe))
I've listened to it on its own while doing various things such as working and time flew by!
Characters: ahhh EVERY character in this anime is so unique and memorable and it is my favourite thing about it! I love all the characters they're lovable and compliment (both literally and figuratively) eachother sooo well!
Overall: I love it! Now I haven't seen many animes but overall this is the best anime I've seen and it just feels like something I would love to watch again! I recommend if you haven't seen it and you love Action, adventure and romance I urge you to try this anime out!
Bring on Sword Art Online II!
For starters let me say that sword art isn't like Accel world. Accel world is about a fat kid that doesn't know wtf he's doing and just lucks his ass off into a harem world where he is a natural talent.
Sword art actually has a storyline and the character makes total sense because he didn't just get into the game but he has played the beta (he was pretty much addict) and has done alot of research on the maker of the game. No wonder he's one of the best players.
Sword art potentionally has a very good plot, though since it is not finished and not very far yet, we can't see where it's going. It started off as him being one of the best solo players. now (episode 8 just aired) the last two episodes were complete fillers. The story doesn't seem to be going anywhere. I hope that it will not turn into a harem anime, though there have only been three girls seen in the whole series so far (of which two in the filler eps), and since he actually met a guy at the beginning there is hope.
The story is still far from ruined. It can turn into either a bad cliche harem anime or into an awesome story with the main character meeting different persons, maybe starting parties and a guild or something.
Sword art has a very strangely pacing story. In the second episode two months have past, and after a few eps we have seen one and a half year already. Then it starts to show things from in between that time (mostly fillers) so this anime's timeline is pretty inconsistent. at the beginning of the episode a time is shown. remember:
The game started at november 6 - 2022. It's pretty nice to know how many years have passed since the start and they should put a bit more exclamation on it IMO.
As for now, there isn't much to say about it because the direction it's heading is pretty vague. But so far, exept for the two fillers, I am very content about it.
Looking good, pretty moving. Last episode they let the characters wear normal clothing inside of their house. Doesn't make any sense at all but it's probably to fluffen up the clothing style a bit. It doesn't matter to me but some people give critisism to animes such as steins gate for the cast constantly wearing the same clothing. So at least they are listening to the fans.... or maybe it's just to be cliche again.... Can't tell yet ^^
Good opening decent ending and decent BGM. Nothing special here but nothing bad either.
Main character(Kirito) is very interesting. He helps people for reasons and not just because he encounters a little girl. He acts like a douchebag in the beginning to keep people away from him because he doesn't like to play co-op. Seems rather inconsitent but he has reasons for everything and looks like a very interesting and promising character
Sidekick ho (Asuna) I might have to change my profile picture to captain obvious when I predict that she's going to end up with him. She's (from what I've seen yet) pretty much the only one he hangs out with from the pro players and he has several meetings with her. Also it seems like she is the only one he forms a party with. Also she has maxed coocking so git to ze kitchaaa
Dude he met in the beginning (yeaaa... what's his name again?) He didn't really do anything so far. He played a minor role in one of the earlier episodes (I believe we saw him again in three) but so far he's been doing jack. He will probably get involved again later on.
As you can see the character cast is (after 8 eps) still vey limited. As there are almost never just three main characters (let alone two) there will probably be some new characters introduced later on. Let's hope they are not harem girls and make sense and that this anime shall take the right path.
Now at episode 11 17, sword art has turned into an awesome anime with an amazing cast. The most noticable thing about it is probably that it is really the first mix between a real japanese "kawaii" momentum anime and a serious story that is actually going somewhere. This anime jumps around from doing awesome stuff to having a incest-seeming sister. Nonetheless, there are just a eps that do barely matter (6-8 and I believe 15 was rather worthless too). Has became one of my favorites and looking forward to the release of the next episode tomorrow
I will try to update this review weekly. So far the anime looks good but with last two episodes being pretty much filler is not a good sign. Let's hope the best(I'm expecting it to continue to be awesome) , but if it continues this way it will end up with a total score of a 4. Continued as an awesome anime after 2-3 "fillers"
I might as well skip the plot synopsis of Sword Art Online, because odds are you already know it. Sword Art Online has utterly exploded. It is all over the place. It is that one show the EVERYONE is watching, whether it be through genuine interest or sheer bile fascination. And amidst this, it has split the anime fandom enormously between those who utterly love it and those who absolutely hate it. As you no doubt checked what I scored this before anything else, you can probably tell I'm in the latter camp.
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 to whom he isn't related by blood. Because of course, if they were related by blood, they couldn't make her a romantic interest! Through this convenient and overly-cliche twist, we can remove most of the taboo and avoid all the dramatic writing we'd need in order to handle such a heavy theme! It's the perfect copout! Man, aren't we so smart.
...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
I didnt start wathcing Sword Art Online until there were already 19 episodes, and I wound up watching them all in one night! I am an MMO player, but I dont think you have to be one to enjoy this anime. (but you will probably like it more!)
Dont read on if you dont want any spoilers!
First off, the romance is not your typical anime romance that just happens, or never makes progress. This one actually develops, and it was suprising to me how it developed.
The concept has been done already (mmo world having real life consequences) but there is still a lot of variety available within the concept, so to say 'its been done in '.hack' or 'accell world' would be inaccurate.
Characters are built well, there are of course the characters you are ment to hate, and those your ment to love. But there are also inbetween characters you can like or dislike without being swayed by the writers. Its easy to figure out who the main characters are, but its not so easy to figure out who the supporting characters will be playing larger roles. This is good in my opinion, because it gives away to much about the future of anime when you know who will impact the future episodes.
The animation is excellent, not so much in the artistic ability/style, but also in the fight/heavy action scenes.
I have already watched episode 1-19 twice (had to review for episode 20) and I still enjoyed them and noticed things I did not see before. The replay value is good.