*I try to put together this review for people interested in watching the show, so this review contains LITTLE SPOILERS*
Sword Art Online is an MMORPG game that has been released in Japan and 10,000 excited players signed in on the launch day to play. Kazuto Kirigaya, or otherwise known by his nickname, Kirito, signs in as a beta tester along with the other players. After playing for some time, they decide to log out, but mysteriously, the log out feature is missing. Akihiko Kayaba, the game's creator, informs the players that the log out feature is no longer part of the game and that they are stuck in his own world. In order to exit out of the game, you are required to complete the game by reaching the 100th floor. Kirito then ventures to clear the game and along the way meets many people and soon, someone very important to him.
Sword Art Online's story isn't the most unique aspect and has been done before. But here, we have a over-powered character named Kirito who seeks out to clear a death game that has 10,000 others trapped as well.
The story picks up from the start and gives a great introduction to the series itself. However, the pacing of the story is not the best having a time skip of over a year in just a span of 2 episodes.With each individual episode, Kirito is acquainted with different characters who seek help from him. Each episode has a really shortened storyline with the quests lasting only an episode at max. The jumble of so many storylines in the anime makes the story lack in quality. The anime would have a much better experience if the series were to lengthen, since the game was so massive to just be shorten to just a measely 15 episodes in Aincrad. The worlds or "floors" as mentioned in the game, each have a unique purpose and tailor to the genre of a MMORPG lifestyle with quests, items, and an interactive stat system.
Other than the flaws, the story had a slice of life feel to them with a little kick of action in each episode. Also, never expected a type of romance mood in this anime, but when you are set in a dangerous world, the main character has to have sort of a love interest of some sort to keep him occupied as well as small fanservice mixed in. In the second arc, the story kind of increased, with a drama/romance aspect added into the story with an addition of an actual antagonist. But, the way the show played it out wasn't great, since for most of the time it was Kirito blazing through each enemy having no trouble at all.
The second arc could have been a much greater experience if they had a more in-depth story as well as a better choice in game setting. But since it's a video game genre anime, you don't really expect a completely amazing story to begin with.
Sword Art Online provides the viewer with a amazing world full of colorful scenery and detailed characters and buildings. Imagining yourself in this spectacle of a in-game world makes you want this game to be real.
The scenery really makes you admire the world that the characters are set into. When you really think about it, this is a virtual game, and having yourself be immersed into this type of setting really makes you think on how technology would be in 2022. But I hardly believe that this massive world would really exist in the near future.
Getting back into track, Sword Art Online also has pretty well-animated characters, each with a unique style to them. The armor they are equipped with is very colorful and sleek looking and fits well to the setting and theme to the game itself. Also providing a sort of feeling to how the character is like just by looking at their armor/clothing. Each weapon that they portray is well designed and is fit to the character who is weilding it.
Overall, Sword Art Online gives the most impressive animation done by A-1 Pictures. The animation itself really holds the anime up and is the strongest aspect of the anime.
The soundtrack of Sword Art Online has an array of of well orchestrated pieces that supports each particular scene very well. Having this wide collection of OSTs from Fast-Paced to Sad to Relaxing gives each scene a sense of emotion to the watcher having them hear the feeling and be more into it. Seems like a movie or an actual video game soundtrack to me since it is very well done. From titles like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Halo, and other numerous game titles, Sword Art Online is set upon their level of great original songs tailored to the anime. Here is a video of the soundtrack to the Sword Art Online anime for whomever is interested.
Voice Acting is another great aspect of the anime. With Yoshitsugu Matsuoka performing as Kirito and the well known Haruka Tomatsu performing as Asuna. Voice acting is well done and the seiyus perfomed well with each of their characters. Expressing much emotion and charisma to make sure the sound is top-notch. Overall, sound ties up with animation in creating the world of Sword Art Online.
The characters of Sword Art Online was a little over average with a lack of character development in some introduced characters throughout the series. Kirito, the male protagonist, is what you can call the "Superhero" of the show. Through his sheer skills, over the top stats, and a wide array of emotions, he is one of the most recognizable and loved characters of this century.
His capability of doing anything tailor him as one of the most overpowered characters I have ever seen. But this personality of his makes him very loved in general with his generic look and very cool looking outfit. Asuna, the female protagonist, is another character who can be deemed as overpowered. However, her struggles within the game can erase that theory even though her stats are almost at the level of Kirito's. Her personality is sort of "tsundere" since shes a little harsh to Kirito when they first get along.
As the story progresses, characters development increases as the two characters become to change to the sense of what is happening around them and to other people. It's no surprise here, but the romance in the anime is pretty predictable and the relationship between Kirito and Asuna strengthens greatly in a short amount of time. But with this development of their relationship, it has some reason to why they are becoming clear to each other with some obstacles faced in their path. Kirito and Asuna is one of the most popular duos or couples in anime of today showing great interest in the fanbase.
In the second arc, a main antagonist is introduced as well as Kirito's relative, Suguha. The character development of Suguha is a strongpoint as she progresses in the story. She changes and shows much emotion as it comes along in the second arc. Her actions within the anime are mixed in the fanbase on whether she is lovable or not. But her actions can be understandable as her relative was inactive for well over 2 years. Overall her character, makes the second arc a bit more dramatic and personal between Kirito and herself.
The main antagonist has little development and background. However, his actions and desires have made him one of the most hated anime characters of the century. To put some flaws into play, some minor characters who have really shown some support towards Kirito such as Silica and Lizbeth, could have had more screen time and relations with the other characters than they had in the show.
The early relationship of Kirito and Sachi was a effective one as it showed a dramatic side to the show. The development of Sachi's character was a shy and scared girl who is afraid of dying in the game. Kirito builds a sense of feeling towards this as he is promised to protect her at all costs and their relationship grows in such short time.
Overall, the character development was more than average but could have made a bigger impact on the story and style of a massively built world like Sword Art Online.
Sword Art Online is the most popular anime of 2012 and is loved and hated by many people around the world. However, I enjoyed the show because of its attractive style and lovable characters. The first arc of the anime was greatly done with a lacking second arc. This was my only complaint when watching this show because the first arc could have been lengthened to become a long-running series which I wouldn't mind following (as said in the Story section). I recommend this anime as a sort of starter to the anime world for those newcoming watchers, for its lovable characters and easily understandable story.
To much hype, I enjoyed Sword Art and very eager to see how the second season comes along. If the anime were to improve what I have said, then it would be one of my favorites to be honest. I give Sword Art Online a 8.3 out of 10.
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