YOU! Yes, you there! You who are searching for a good Sword Art Online II review from a non-fanboy! It's right here waiting for you to click me so you can expand to read more! I promise, you will be entertained and well informed in a spoiler free manner. Sounds great, right!? Well what are you waiting for!
So a quick bit of brief background information... I watched the predecessor Sword Art Online and thought the series was pretty decent. The show had great potential but I think the series could have had so much more to it. Overall though when I finished watching it I found myself looking forward to the sequel.
Enter, Sword Art Online II super sexy review.
Ok, just kidding about the super part... ;)
First Arc Review
Let's start with the most important part of any anime show - the story. The original story of Sword Art Online in its first arc was brilliant. I found the second arc of the original show to have been ok but nothing special like the first arc. And then came Gun Gale Online the first arc of Sword Art Online II... oh god, where to begin.
First of all let me get this out of the way. Bullet of Bullets?! What?! That doesn’t even make any sense! (I think it was meant to be Battle of Bullets but the animation definitely had the words Bullet of Bullets).
Ok, so glad that we have got the important and definitely non-trivial part of the review out of the way. (PSSST just in case you can't tell that last sentence is dripping with so much sarcasm that you could practically drink it).
Alright, back to the story of GGO (Gun Gale Online). The story itself isn't actually half bad.
(The following is in the synopsis) Basically it's your classic bad guy killing people, hero to uncover his/her identity and method of killing with a girl caught up in the middle of the mess.
Simple yet good stuff right? How could this possibly go wrong?
Well, it does go wrong. It all really comes down to one word. Pacing.
The pacing is so off at times it's actually slower than a shonen anime. (Oh no he didn't!) If you marathon the episodes you may not get the same unsatisfactory feeling that I got after I finished watching an episode every week. This was because of a combination of frequently drawing out scenes needlessly only to fill time, showing you scenes which don't need to be seen again and worse of all offer little to no actual story development. (wow, it does sound just like a shonen anime!)
To make things worse though when story actually happened it would all happen at once and be over with in a flash and most of the time it would occur right at the end and you’d be left rolling your eyes at such a terrible cliff hanger.
In summary, there was good promise for the first arc but the show could not have delivered it any worse than they did.
There really isn't all too much to say about the animation other than that the team did a decent job at animating the show. Honestly, between the animation and the fact that I don't like leaving a series half unwatched I would have dropped this series a while ago.
There are quite a few scenes where the detail of artwork is amazing. The fights in the show are also pretty cool to see.
I really like the scene below, for a side on shot there is a nice amount of detail put into it. (psst don't mind the subs!)
Really, I would actually put 0/10 if it weren't for a couple of characters in the anime that I really liked. The first of which is the antagonist of the first arc Death Gun. His character is very menacing looking and his actual personality is intriuging.
The other character which I liked is Sinon. She has an interesting background (when it's not drawn out or repeated again and again and again and again and again... oops, got carried away) and offers a unique personality to the show. I especially like how we see her trauma and how it affects her.
With the exception of the two I mentioned just about every other character in the show either irritates the hell out of me or I barely took notice of them.
I can't be the only person who would cringe whenever I saw Kirito's GGO character, right? Especially during a couple of scenes... Also Kirito totally supports polygamy now by the way. Only kidding - or am I?!
Another character who constantly makes me cringe is the pixie fairy AI whenever it calls Kirito, "Papa". Damn it, just imaging hearing the voice is bad enough. Must. Stop. Thinking. About. It. AHHH!
Ok so written mental breakdowns aside, the rest of the gang lacked much character at all. I can't even remember their names with the exception of Asuna who I only remember from the first original series.
Reeeeeeally? Do you actually give a damn?
... hey, what more do you want of me?!
Overall the show so far is a huge let down for me. On paper the story is pretty good especially with the way it all connects and the depth of what the characters are going through but it's ruined by the show's pacing.
However, I recommend that you watch it. While it's definitely not on my rewatch list you may find that you either love really slow story progression based anime series or aren't bothered by it. If that's the case, I reckon you'll enjoy it.
If you enjoyed my review or have some constructive criticism please let me know! I spent ages writing this damn it, I want feedback!
PENDING: Second Arc Super Sexy Review II
Story: Garbage, almost non existent.
Animation: Poor. It looks like the second half of Sword Art Online One's art but cut in half. (So basically worse then Season 1's worst second half, which was made 2 years before)
Sound: Generic sound effects, ambience, and background music. Kirito's voice actor is good in other anime, but fails to show any light in this one along with every other voice actor.
Characters: Lifeless, dull and boring.
Overall: Keep away, this is way overhyped.
2/10 is generous.
Everyone has the right to their own opinion, but your opinion in this case is wrong.
I must say, I was hesitant to watch the second season after seeing the first. The first season was a great idea, but the execution of it (the flow) was terrible. However, I decided that I wanted to know what happened, and if some plot holes were filled, so I watched.
I wasn't disappointed.
In fact, it's going to be hard to be objective in my review for two reasons. The first is that I have personal experience with dealing with a trauma (an issue brought up in the first arc), and that...well, to try and keep spoilers out as well, let's just say that I had a friend in a similar position (minus all the technology, of course) as a character in the third arc.
Moving on, I'll try to be as objective as possible. My rating on the overall story at the bottom will be the average of each story arc (which I'll put a rating to under the "Story" headline in this review).
There are three arcs, all of which with different plots.
The first arc goes from episode one to episode 14. There have been two mysterious deaths in the real world, linked to a character in a new VMMORPG called "Gun Gale Online". The character, known as Death Gun, supposedly kills his victims in real life by shooting them with a gun in the game; a feat which shouldn't be possible by all the rules and new dive devices used after the disaster of SAO.
Kirito is recruited (and paid) to convert his character and enter GGO in order to help with the investigation due to his help with the investigators of SAO. This also brings a flash from the past, as he winds up dealing with one of the other SAO survivors.
(I'd give this storyline a 7/10)
The second arc occurs in ALO. There's a short mini-plot of the main group attempting to get the Excalibur and running into Gods of the world based off of Norse mythology; this arc spans episodes 15-17.
(This storyline only deserves a 2/10 for possible but wasted potential)
The final arc goes from episode 18 until the final episode of 24, and features a guild in ALO called the Sleeping Knights. It starts off when the main protagonists hear about a great sword fighter who duels with others, nicknamed "Zekken" due to her skills and having an original sword skill offered should someone wins.
Asuna is the last of the group to duel Zekken, who turns out to be a girl named Yuuki, and due to her performance in the duel, is asked by Yuuki to help the Sleeping Knights defeat a boss so that they can get their names on the Swordsman Stone in the village.
There's a sub-plot which occurs during episodes 18-24, which includes a little of the struggles Asuna goes through in the real world with her mother, as well as delving into Yuuki's character.
(Probably the best storyline; I'd give it a 10/10)
Putting aside the characters we already know from the first season, we're introduced to a few in the second season. I'm only going to list the protagonist characters to avoid possible spoilers (due to the fact that the first arc follows in a mystery-genre pattern, listing every character would be spoiler-heavy; I figured out "who" and "how" without any spoilers or knowing the character names beforehand, so just having a summary of the antagonists might even be too much).
There are two major characters introduced in the two arcs (not including the "interlude" arc for the Excalibur):
Shino Asada, aka "Shinon", is a new protagonist introduced in the first arc/the GGO arc. She's a sniper in the steampunk world of GGO who has a fear of guns outside the game due to a traumatic experience involving a bank robbery when she was 11 years old. In the game, that fear doesn't seem to manifest, and she's the one whom Kirito first discovers and asks for help from; granted, she thought Kirito was a girl at first, but she still helps him out. She's typically shy and introverted, but has a quiet confidence about her inside GGO.
Yuuki Kinno, also nicknamed "Zekken", appears in the next major arc which starts at episode 18 in ALO. She's a cheerful, upbeat, and accomplished one-handed sword wielder despite what she's going through in the real world. She's the leader of the guild Sleeping Knights, and is first seen accepting challenges from other players to duel.
Yuuki is also one of the few female characters introduced in the anime who does NOT fall in love with Kirito (a nice change).
This season, by far, was the best season in pacing and story. If the first season had this sort of pacing for the first arc, then I would have given it a much higher rating. Everything moved smoothly, and transitioned perfectly.
Yes, the first couple episodes (GGO arc) are a little on the dull side since they don't include Kirito or the others as much, and not all of it is even necessary to the story. There are also some plot points and issues which should have been addressed in the first season/anime rather than this one.
The first arc was interesting, and will certainly appeal to mystery lovers, but isn't exactly resolved. It has a conclusion, but not a complete resolution; something which costs the season some points. The motives are also a little vague, which cost it at the conclusion.
Now, the first arc was certainly interesting; between Shinon's trauma and Kirito having to confront a past SAO survivor, plus the overall mystery and fights, there's plenty to give the first arc a lot of points. It would have been perfect had all plot points been resolved.
There's also the mini-arc for the Excalibur, which ends on an odd note (with one NPC boss saying something strange), and really has no other impact on the overall story at all. Nothing more develops from it despite the interesting setup it was given, and such a thing really can't be overlooked.
The third arc is really what breathes life into the season. Perhaps some people might find it strange, or odd...and I'd probably put it on an emotional level of Clannad...but it was done perfectly.
The flow, the story, and the emotions were all great. I really can't go too far into it without spoiling it, and perhaps it won't impact someone who hasn't seen that sort of thing in an MMO community or had something similar happen to a friend (or family member).
There aren't many, if any, faults in the final arc with the exception of a passing mention of someone at the end and no elaboration on it. Everything else, from the characters to the story, was incredible.
For all the arcs, it would have been awesome if we saw more of the relationship between Kirito and Asuna, rather than the feeling that the writers couldn't quite decide whether to have it be a harem or not, but otherwise, not bad.
All in all, despite the GGO arc not having a true resolution (though it has a conclusion) and the Excalibur arc having a lot more potential than what was done, the second season was more enjoyable and suspenseful than the first season.
SAO and SAO II are a very good anime from the standpoint is that it is a unquie anime all of to itself. There really has not been a anime done with the modern concept of MMO's Therefor it really stands alone its catagory. While the concept of the NERVE Gear is not totally unquie the way that it used makes this a very interesting story. There are plot twist every were you look. In SOA I there really was not a whole lot of side story on the LC (laughing coffins) this a big mistake in SOA II because one of main villians is from LC (laughing coffins) they really should of included this more in the first installment of the SOA. As for the over all story and design I've enjoyed the anime well and plan to watch it though to the end! The graphics are a little above average in my book, as well as the sound is just abover average as well. I would recomend it as a good starter anime to those that are not accustomed to the anime scene. I do believe that more can be done with this story that just two seasons and a couple of extra kind of movies. This anime has more stories that can be done with it. There are side stories not developed that should be and main stories that can be written. In my book SOA and SOA II are a 8.5 out of a possible 10
Well the second installment of SAO is in the bag! Here are my final thoughts on the second intstallment of SAO.
1. The whole premise around the LC or Laughting Coffins was a godd fit for the the second installment of the SAOfranchise. I thought as a whole the story flowed well with some minor gaps with in the universie of SAO. While some of the back story on the LC was covered! I think that some important areas were left untouched! Whether or not that will be brought up in the third intallment that is yet to be seen. The Death Gun character was not used to the fullest of its potential. I thought that more could of been done with the character. Some of the side story with in the Laughing Coffins should of made it to the screen! That is just my opinion on the LC's.
2. As for the main characters
Kirito and Shino Asada they fit the overall story quite well in my book. I did think that the main charcters from the first installment Asuna Yuuki, Suguha Kirigaya, Agil, Klein, did not get covered much at all. That is the sad thing of it. Those charcaters in my book should of been included it to it more than they were.
3. The fourth arc. The beging of the fourth arc has started and SAO has brought some more interesting plot twists and turns to the story. The first four episodes are dedicated to Kirito, Asuna, and the gang going down to a norse mythology level and fighting to save that relem from the Ice giants! Must say that it was really good! And Kirito getting that lengendary sword as well as Klien getting moliner or Thor's Hammer. Then the gang goes back and Kirito and Asuna getting their old house back on level 22. Then there is Asuna's mother and her demands of asuna finding a sutiable husband other than Kirito! Total bs on that score! I think this may end up being the best instalment of the SAO francise! Will finish up my review at the end of the fourth arc thanks for reading!
Some Spoilers Ensue:
As a huge fan of the first season, I went into this expecting a lot. Granted I was a little let down in part 2 of the first season, but it seemed the writers might be able to get back on track here...so SAO2 is broken up into 3 parts and I will review each separately.
Part 1: GGO
This arc started off pretty cool...I thought we were going to get an awesome new villain and the same death in the game/death in real life drama from the first season. I was looking forward to Asuna and Kirito kicking some ass in a new world, but sadly, that isn't what happened. Instead, we were introduced 2 eps in, to a new character called Sinon. It was actually more like we were thrown into her life blind, but anyway, she comes in as the new lead and we get Kirito as her sidekick. That's all. None of the other characters are even relevant throughout this whole are (and it seems to be an ongoing theme this whole season). I stuck with it and even began to like Sinon a bit, and then the big awesome reveal came: that the killer in GGO was someone from SAO. Once it hit this mark, I was hooked. Again, sadly, this didn't last long. The problem with this show has always been the pacing. In this arc especially, we deserved much more action. Especially during BoB. Instead, we got longwinded conversation episodes and weird ass shots of Shion laying on Kirito's lap though he clearly stated he's with Asuna. It was all just a mess. The reveal of who the bad guy was was also underwhelming. What was brought up as an awesome twist initially petered out quickly when you realized Death Gun was just some random from Laughing Coffin. On the plus side, there were a few parts I liked when Kirito and Sinon were first together and when she stood up for herself, but I called it that her friend was evil like 4 eps in...dissapointing. 3/10.
Part 2: Excalibur:
One of the most useless and boring bouts of filler episodes I've seen yet. There was no plot here. It seems like the writers just had too many episodes to fill, so they just threw together some messy world, put our characters in it, and gave them (almost) action sequences to run through. I did LOVE Tonkii though...probably the only good thing to come from this arc. Also, I hate how Kirito has become a typical harem guy...it ruins his charm IMO. 1/10.
Part 3: Mother's Rosario:
The only reason why this season is getting 4/10 is for this arc. Again, it isn't perfect by any means, but Asuna is my favorite character and I was happy we got to look into her life. This is another time where we got thrown a ton of new characters who we were supposed to care about. Again, this put old favorites on the back burner and, though this arc was sad, I was again dissappointed by the end. Sure, Yukki was interesting and cool so her death was difficult, but I would have much preffered, if they were going to do a character death, kill of someone we know. It would have felt much more devistating and would have hit much harder than a new character. True, what happened to Yukki gave Asuna strength which was rewarding to see, but the interaction between her and Kirito was what I was looking for all season, and they literally skipped over it all season until and akward moment in the last episode where he tells her he wants to be with her forever. Also, the funeral scene when they were figuring out who created the Medicuboid was horribly placed and took away from any feeling I did have at that time. Bad form. On the plus side, the scenes with Asuna and her mom and Asuna and Yukki were a good watch so I didn't hate it. 4/10.
Animation and Sound:
As always, SAO looks gorgeous. The worlds are intricate and the character design is lovely. GGO was a little bland, but I guess it was supposed to be. Most of my favorite animated moments with in the last arc. Honestly though, the highlight again was the sound. All the openings and endings were awesome (especially op1 and ed3). They pumped you up and it was great so bravo LiSa and Eir Aoi for dazzling us again here. The OST also is a definite highlight for this show. It worked perfectly during every scene as did the amazing voice acting. If anything else, I can't fault this show at all for it's sound.
I touched on this already so I won't write too much here, but if you read my review of the first series, you would know I loved the characters a lot. I think that was the most dissappointing thing this season: the fact that they didn't get a lot of screen time...even when they did, it wasn't really together which pissed me off. Everything that happened this season could have happened between these characters without introducing new ones. Having said that, Sinon and Yukki were worthwhile, if useless additions. I liked them when they were on the show, but ultimately, could have done without for a better experience. I really just wanted Kirito and Asuna together more. They were amazing in the first season.
A dissapointing and long-winded season. I'm hoping the inevitable season 3 will bring back the fun that was season 1, but I won't hold my breath. Some fun parts sprinkled throughout did not give me enough to overcome many boring and plotless episodes. Sorry guys, I'd skip it.