This review may contain my own opinion and possible minor spoilers, read at your own risk!
Story: The year is 2022 and the long awaited VRMMO (Virtual Reality Massive Multiplayer Online) game called Sworld Art Online just launched. In order to descend to the game, all you have to do is put on special helmet called Nerve Gear, that will allow you to come into the virtual world.
Kirito is one of the players who's eager to play the game, knowing about it since he spent a great deal of time as beta tester in SAO. Kiroto quickly becomes friends with a newbie gamer called Klein. But soon, the 10 000 players of Sword Art Online discover there is no logout button. Everyone thought it was some kind of bug and that it was going to get fixed soon, but later on the Game Master tells players the harsh truth - it's not defect in the game, but one of its features. Furthermore, if people are killed in the game, they will die in real life because of the Nerve Gear that makes it happen. Now everyone could ask, why not let someone from the real world take off the Nerve Gear for you? Well, in addition to being killed when you die in game, you will also die if someone would try to take the Nerve Gear off you, since the Nerve Gear you have on your head would fry your brain if anybody tried so. But fret not! There is a way to to survive and go back to the real world. Players have to beat 100 floors of the game, with each floor having boss on the end of the floor. Note that every floor is totally different from any other floors.
Now, will Kirito be able to clear all hundred floors, or anyone else? Will they have to make huge raids with many people or perhaps small group of elites in order to finish the game... or maybe someone could solo the whole game? Watch the anime to find out!
Animation: The animation in this anime is very well done. It makes the fights and everything else feel really good and smooth.
Sound: While Sword Art Online's opening is just average or barely above average, the OST is what makes the epic battles epic and daily lifes casual. Only few animes got such great OST and even less animes got better OST than this one.
Kirito - A player that mainly prefers to play solo rather than in parties, but lends a hand to those in need. Kirito is quite interesting character and will remain so until the very end. One day he meets Asuna, which will change him forever.
Asuna Yuuki - While Asuna at the start is kind of newbie (and tsundere), she later becomes greatly skilled in the game. Unlike Kirito whom isn't in guild, Asuna belongs to the guild called Knights of the Blood. One day she meets Kirito and little by little she starts to like him. While many people would disagree with me in this, I still think Asuna is VERY interesting character that people will either totally love or totally hate.
Suguha Kirigaya - Kirito's sister. She doesn't appear until later in anime and when she does she will have to make tough decision.
Klein - One of the newbies Kirito met at the start. While Klein has no idea how to play the game at the beginning, he will eventually get better later. Klein is one of those good guys that only few people can hate.
Overall: I think Sword Art Online is definitely worth watching, especially if you love fantasy with some romantic parts in it. Honestly, I hate how people say this anime is overrated when obviously it's not (if it would be, it wouldn't have such high ranking). Overrated is just bullshit excuse for people that don't want to watch it since it's quite popular. It's truth that people have different tastes so some people won't like this anime, but overrated is word that doesn't belong to this anime. That would be all I have to say about the review.
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.
I was totally okay with this anime during the first half. I was genuinely refreshed that the main female lead wasn't a dumb bimbo in distress. I wasn't like, "omg best anime ever" but it was a watchable anime and I planned on finishing it with no hard feelings.
But holy hell did they ruin that fast.
Literally, over the course of 1.5 episodes the entire series was COMPLETELY ruined for me.
Firstly, the first half ended SO abrubtly. Like literally, the worst boss fight ever. It was more interesting to watch Klein learn how to kill a pig in the first few episodes.
At this point I'm like, "Alright... shitty ending to the first half but maybe they'll redeem themselves in the next half."
As soon as Kirito's sister/cousin came into the picture I KNEW I was going to hate the rest of this anime. "uuguu~, onii-chan has feelings for this girl, why can't he see me like that?"
UM. BECAUSE YOU WERE RAISED AS HIS FUCKING SISTER AND YOU'RE STILL RELATED.
I was 100% disgusted and 110% done with the anime at this point.
I decided to drop it before it sunk itself any further.
This show has gotten some well-deserved hype, because it certainly looks great, and the soundtrack is nice. On top of that, it has a premise that in the beginning, looks very very interesting.
Where this show falls down for me is that the plot is completely and utterly inconsequential.
The problem is that the show tries to head with an episodic format, while not realizing that in many successful episodic shows such as Nichijou or Working!!, the plot of each episode is removed from the others, but they focus on one group of characters.
In Sword Art Online, we see the adventures of Kirito, boy forced into a death game, ala .hack, only he isn't alone here, 9999 other players are trapped with him. The thing is, the story has never focused on Kirito. Each episode, without fail, they introduce a new character we have not seen before, with their own story, and rest assured, you will likely never see them again after that episode.
Even with this format, I thought the show could have worked if it had focused on Kirito, but the show changes focus to the new person and characterizes them for an episode before they drop off the face of the earth.
In all, the only reccuring characters are cardboard cutouts, and all other characters have no consequence beyond their episode.
Although I feel a show does not have to have a good story to engage me, this show focuses entirely on the story, badly told, rather than on other aspects, like action. By the last episode I watched at time of writing, the action scenes had been pared down to about 20 seconds per episode.
To sum up, The show has terrible storytelling, excellent visuals, almost no action, and completely unrelateable characters. Watch it for the pretty visuals and decent soundtrack, then forget about this empty show.
This won't be a review saying how much I love SAO or whatever so if you don't want to read a review offending your all time favorite anime you shouldn't be reading this.
To be honest SAO has a a nice, regular paced plot although it does has it filler moments SAO captivates you with its spectacular animation and the totally badass main character and really I started to love it. Until the romance came in and put all my love for this in the trash every since episode 10 or something I can't remember where he (SPOILER ALERT) kissed the girl, forgot her name and from there on SAO just became a filler anime telling about the virtual love of these characters.
SAO had the potential to be a much greater anime without the romance thrown in it should have been about Kirito clearing the game or maybe even him dying (sorry I just love when the main character are defeated or die because it make the whole thing more gripping)
Yea I'm not a grammarnazi and if you are I probably made you cringe at my horrid grammar I apologize.