Warning! This review may contain spoilers of the anime Sword Art Online. Proceed with Caution!
I was very excited to see the Sword Art Online anime after reading the light novel and after seeing the "end" of the first novel in the anime, I was not disappointed. It followed the novel well and managed to cut out parts without getting rid of major plots points.
Story: Imagine being able to actually go into a video game and play around like you were actually there (Think of the Matrix). You meet other people and are having fun when you suddenly find out that you can't log out of the virtual world. Not only that but if you ever die in the virtual world, you die in real life. The only way to escape is to clear 100 floors of the world and defeat the final boss. This is the situation that beta tester and veteran MMO gamer Kazuto Kirigaya, aka Kirito, finds himself in. The story is definitly something that grabbed me immediatly as well as the fact that it took place in a video game. Episodes 2-7 and episodes 11 and 12 are side stories from later light novels. The addition of these episodes definitly helped develop the character's background and make sure the "first season" didn't end too quickly. While some parts were left out, they didn't affect the majority of the plot.
I like how we get to see how people have adapted differently to their situation and how some have turned to murdering for fun while others staying in the starter city for fear of dying. I also like how we see people of a variety of ages and how people realize that they can go beyond the normal limits of a human being.
I did wonder about the NerveGear helmet. If the helmet has an internal battery, doesn't that mean that it eventually has to run out of power? I get that some batteries can last for a long time and you can just leave the helmet plugged in but if the helment ran out of power would that mean that the person would be logged out or would they die? Also, why is it that the outside world can't contact them or even go into the world and help them? 9/10
Animation: The animation felt new, I don't know if it is, and definitly clear. There was so much life put into the graphics that it surprise me when I first watched this. 9/10
Sound: The voice acting definitly help make the characters feel more alive and sympathetic. I background music felt appropriate for most of the episodes and I really like how they added the Christmas jingle in the third episode. 10/10
Characters: While we get some background on each of the characters, the character that the story focuses on is Kirito. We follow him from teaching Klein to defeating the final boss. Throughout this, we come to know his pros and cons. He goes out of his way to help others even when there is nothing to gain from doing so. He also has a hard time forgiving himself even when everyone does. Through him we learn about the other characters like Asuna and Silvia. Essentially, we are looking at the whole situation through his eyes. 10/10