This will be my first review of an anime, so bare with me here. I'm a bit rusty, I suppose. :)
Sword Art Online, ahh what an anime. It's one that is likely going to be talked about in the next generation of anime watchers, and even perhaps the generation after that. But.. why?
Coming from an objective point of view, with no biased opinions of any sort, I'll see the anime as a generic anime basing itself off the worst case scenario of any adolescent gamers dream. It has generic characters, doing generic acts, facing generic situations and solving generic problems. The whole anime is generic - so why does it capture and amuse such a large audience? Why are so many people so crazy about this anime? Why is my Minecraft skin based on Kirito!?
Well, that's a difficult question to answer. I suppose at the root, it's merely popular because it's popular. A great case of this terrible ordeal. But people still enjoy it thoroughly, regardless of this paradox. And that's because it's subjective. Whether or not you enjoy it isn't an objective opinion - it's subjective.
The storyline of Sword Art Online is nothing new, it's been done many times. Accel World, .hack//, even non animes have done it. Gamer being the most prominent, though there are many many more. The only main difference between Sword Art Online and the rest of the stories, is that the characters in Sword Art Online are not aware of this situation before they enter, they are unable to leave until they clear it, and EVERYBODY in the game is forced to follow these rules. Not just a few select people like in .hack.
But overall, I found the story in Sword Art Online entirely encapsulating. It left me longing for that next episode, for that next week to go by. I'd explain what the storyline is, but Anime-Planet has already done that quite well, and it would be rather redundant for me to do so here.
As for the art, the animation, the essence of anime. It's Sword Art Online's only falling point. In some of the episodes, the fights are just entirely skipped, or you only see a few still images. Though, when the fights are played out properly, they're exceptionally well done. I just can't forgive laziness, even if when they aren't lazy it is done exceptionally well. Of course, most of Sword Art Online isn't about fighting, it's about the character and plot developments, so the lack of animation in fights isn't necessarily a downfall to the overall anime itself. Merely to the animation.
And now we come to the sound, perhaps the greatest part of Sword Art Online. There really isn't all too much to say about the sound. At times, it seems like some of the effects are ripped from Zelda or Mario, and I'd be willing to bet they're nearly identical. Kirito's grunts and Links grunts from Ocarina of Time are pretty much the same. And some of the noises in fights are similar to picking up a coin in Mario games. Though, I can only assume they sound the same because they are both great noises. Same thing as having similar voice actors, it's not ripped it's just similar.
The music, however, is where Sword Art Online really shines. Again, not all too much to say here. It's astounding. I would love to be able to put to words the beautifully constructed pieces of music in Sword Art Online, but I fear I would do it no justice.
Character developments in Sword Art Online are the best I've seen in many anime. Kirito starts out as a selfish jerk who thinks only of himself - abandoning his only friend at the first moment he can. But he gradually grows into somebody who will risk his life, even sacrifice himself for the thousands of players he has never met. There was never any real abrupt change. There wasn't any point in which he changed. It just happened over time, and was really beautiful to watch. I could describe the other important character's developments, but I'd be wasting far too many hours of your time that would be better spent watching Sword Art Online!
Overall, I personally feel that this deserves a 10/10. And if you think otherwise, that's fine. If you think I'm wrong, that's fine. I definitely am wrong, but I'm still gonna give it a 10/10. It's easily in my top 5 anime.
overall score: 10/10