I feel like this show could have kept going on for years and I would have watched it. The story just seem so fantastic, to be immersed into a video game and the video game becomes your life. Yet all good things must come to end and so did SAO, now time to take a look at how awesome this show was.
Art and Animations
The show is pretty, and when I say pretty I mean it. There were so many moments during those past 6 month where a stunningly beautiful scene would appear and make you contemplate it in awe. The show was also filled with action scene and every time they were absolutely gorgeous, in some anime they sometimes hide the action behind animated still-shots or flashy colour of attacks, none of that was present in sword art online. Instead we were graced with magnificent battle were you could see the entirety of the action and beautiful backgrounds throughout that show that get you absolutely immerse in their virtual world.
This show looks beautiful and the effort put into it really succeeded in conveying how amazingly beautiful the world of virtual gaming and sword art online was. It earned it’s scored of 9 over 10.
While Sword Art Online span 25 episodes and two arcs, there were very few important characters in the show. Even if you were to take into consideration the secondary character the show remained focused on the few character it presented. Kirito, Sugu, Asuna, those are the three only character which were central enough to the story to be developed and from them Sugu appeared only in the second arc. Having such a small amount of character made it possible for the show to really focus on the psychological transformation of those selected few. Having said that, while Kirito saw a lot of change in those 25 episodes, Asuna’s psychological aspect was mostly neglected. I understand that this show is a lot more about the action and adventure, and it did a great job there, but in term of character development, considering the amount of time the show ran and the small number of character, one could expect some deeper psychological evolution for the characters.
On the other hand, if we forget about the transformation itself for a moment, the characters were all absolutely awesome and felt really real. Sword Art Online was a show who attempted to feel real and the personalities shown by their characters really helped to make us feel like this was normal people in an abnormal situation. Unfortunately this also lead to very generic characters, especially in the case of Kirito. As a main character he was a loser who tried to escape reality with video games and ends up sucked up in a world that advantage his very skills and therefore he becomes a hero. From that point of view, the show failed to give any originality to their protagonist and they are keeping an old and overused pattern.
Of course this show was never meant to focus on character development all that much, but even so I believe that the characters were the weakest element in this show, the characters were at best average and their psychological evolution was never fully explored. Hence this is why the show receive a very average score of 7/10 for characters.
Soundtrack & Opening/Ending
25 episodes, 2 opening and ending…and both of those were great. The opening always felt like quality and the song associated with them were all magnificent. Unfortunately, I will focus mainly on the opening and ending’s flaws here. First of all, in term of animation they were all really generic, they were never ugly, never boring, but they were never awesome either. Both opening and ending always felt like they were just good enough to be enjoyable to watch, but just bad enough not to be memorable. Proof of this is that I don’t even remember any of the song in the openings or endings, not do I remember the soundtrack of the show.
This doesn’t mean that it was bad, on the contrary I would say that the quality of the music in this show was above average, the music always get you into the story, it helped you feel a magical moment if there was one, or it made your blood rush in time for the big battle. The real problem with the music, was that it was not as great as other part of the show, which is unfortunate. This is why it receives a 8 on 10.
Here is the reason why anyone would want to watch this show. Sword Art Online comes from a light novel and it shows. The story, might it be the romantic story between Asuna and Kirito, the incestuous feeling of Sugu or the adventure inside the game, was absolutely incredible. While I must admit that the first quarter of the season was a little boring and felt filler-ish because of the little adventure story, the show really picked up after that and went into a full story drive.
The adventure factor in the show was really explored and it made the show. You really had a feeling that you were discovering the game as the same time as Kirito, you really felt as if you were there with him fighting the boss, beating the game, level by level. The immersion into the story was splendid and while the story itself was really cliché, because of our immersion it felt new, refreshing and wonderful.
On a more negative note, the second arc involving Alfheim online felt a little less immersive. The story told outside of the gaming world was more developed, but It was difficult to create an attachment to Alfheim online since Kirito blazed through its content and the focus wasn’t put so much on the story of the virtual world and more on the story outside of it. Some people must have loved this change of pace, but I must admit that I would have rather have had another story completely immerse into a video game, but this is simply my personal opinion.
Because of all those factors, Sword Art Online deserves it’s mark of 9 on 10 for its immersive and adventurous story.
Overall Entertainment Value
The first few episodes of Sword Art Online were Incredible, they had this whole universe to explore and a life or death setting that made it impossible for someone to felt uninterested in the show. Unfortunately, shortly after the story went into an episode by episode story telling mode and I know of many people who straight up stopped watching the show at that point, and I can understand them. That portion of the show was most likely the only thing that could be responsible for the show not gathering as much hit as it could.
At least that portion only lasted for the first quarter of the show, after which the action and adventure came back as the primary center of attention. Now for the enjoyment value of the show in general, I believe that there is 3 major element that are hit or miss in the show.
- The action and story of a hero clearing a game and being a bad ass isn’t all that original, yes the action scenes are well done and exciting, but sometimes they felt a little too cheesy.
- The romantic story between Asuna and Kirito felt a little weird at first, their relationship evolved in a really weird way, and I don’t mean weird in a good way here. I am no fan of romance anyway, so I had no problem with the way the romance unfolded between Asuna and Kirito, but any fan of romance wouldn’t necessarily find their fill with the way things went between the two.
- The incestuous sister that is Sugu. For me she was both an awesome asset and a terrible thing for the show. For one thing, I loved Asuna and didn’t cared much for Sugu, but that is just personal fanboism and it was the purpose of Sugu. The thing that bugs me is that incest was brought in a show as cheesy and epic as Sword Art Online. I just feel like the show didn’t need something as pathetic for a plot twist. I would have much rather see Kirito kill monster in-game than see Sugu cry because she masturbates thinking about his brother in the next room.
Those 3 points are some things that made the enjoyment of the show a little more shaky sometimes, but overall, they were never impactful enough to deter me from loving Kirito incessant massacre with his sword play. Because of how amazingly entertaining the show was despite so many fragile point, I give this show 8 out of 10 for entertainment value.
The look’s fantastic, the story is fantastic, the sound is fantastic. Even if the characters were not as original as one could have hoped, this show managed to captivate me for half of 2012. My heart and soul is now sold to this series and Sword Art Online will definitively be a show that I will recommend in the future, I believe it is one of the show that will pass the hardship of time to become and remain a classic, it has everything a show needs to do so.
In a few years from now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sword Art Online still at the top of the chart for Most Popular Anime. It is not the best anime, but it has everything needed to be popular and to be enjoyed by the mass, I could get a douchebag to watch this show and enjoy it, this is proof enough that Sword Art Online will remain in our head for a long, long time.
For my final verdict, I give SAO 9 out of 10, this show is worth your time, you should watch it, you should tell your friend to watch it…hell tell your enemies to watch it too !
Final Rating: 7/10
ZeroGhj signing off