Review: Sword Art Online

S.A.O

In a nutshell, Sword Art Online is everything that is wrong with modern anime. It has an interesting premise, and the possibility to have turned into an epic with everything that it promised to possibly do right. However, whilst it does deliver on a large amount of these in the early parts of the show, it turns into something that’s actually so bad it’s funny in the later parts, especially in the second arc.

Partly to blame for this is the leading cast. Kirito takes the male role, and…well, he’s really plain and uninteresting. He doesn’t do anything of interest or anything special, he just fills the role as main character and nothing but that. Along the way, very early in the first arc, a character named Asuna takes the role of leading female. She was a strong character, and a very likeable one at that, but she gets degraded into nothing more than a trophy wife for Kirito to collect and hold onto as the show progresses, and gets replaced with Kirito’s cousin/sister character, who, quite simply, doesn’t belong in the show.

To me, that’s where the huge problems come in. Asuna got replaced by a really poor excuse for a character and, oddly enough, as she changed her personality to adapt more to the male characters, the show became worse and worse. I’m not even going to talk about the sister/cousin character, as that would just make me angry and launch into paragraphs of rage about what went so badly over the show and why it sucks so much…and that is what I’m trying so hard to avoid.

The writing quality is also all over the place, with some serious moments managing to be serious moments, and some serious moments turn into nothing but comedic dashes of the imagination and end up becoming laughable. This balance isn’t something which anyone should be pleased about, turning the show into a Code-Geass styled train wreck.

Ultimately, that’s the only way I can describe this show: a trainwreck. It goes through really strong highs and then lows so pathetically bad that they make you giggle to yourself. It’s, well, because of this that it’s so hard to enjoy the show. What’s even worse is that this would be a completely different story if they’d decided to leave things incomplete and stop at 1-cour (13 episodes).

   

    

    

    

    

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Sword Art Online Episode 17

Captive Queen

You know, I don’t really want to waste any more time blogging about Kirito’s harem growing more and more. There are just so many plot holes and so many problems growing by this point that its not funny anymore, and it’s just plain ridiculous. I mean, where to start…

Leafa should have recognized Kirito instantly, considering how she’s OBVIOUSLY Kirito’s cousin., and it’s hardly a secret that Kirito is just his online alias. She should have asked way more questions about how this guy, who’s clearly a noob, was able to dispatch those warriors so easily.  Yui should never have come back if she was just going to be like this, a stupid version of Navi. Asuna should never have become the damsel in distress, considering she was such a good character. The new villain is plain terrible, with no proper motives or thoughts behind anything. He’s just flat out stupid.

And this is JUST to talk about the latest episode. There are SO many problems that this show has been slowly prodding for a while now, and now that my time is cut short, I don’t feel remotely like wasting my time on this anymore.

Sword Art Online Episode 16

Land of the Fairies

After what can only be called a lackluster episode and a half’s break, Sword Art Online is back to doing what it does best: fantasy worlds and games.  With little to no explanation on the major plot points (Where does Kirito still have Nervegear and why didn’t the Government take them, Why is Kirito so okay to enter another MMO after last time, why is Asuna in ALfheim Online), we go straight back into the fantasy worlds, leaving the viewer to figure these things out for themselves. Okay…at least they found a good reason to let Kirito be god-tiered – his save from SAO conflicted, and as such, he kept his items (although they’ve all become victims of a bug and crashed), his skills and his stats, along with his very own Navi!

That’s right, Yui’s proper purpose in the story is finally revealed, where she takes the role of Kirito’s Navi, the annoying pixie who buzzes around you going “Hey, Hey, HEY!” all the time and never shuts up. Eh. I suppose some people liked her, and i’m sure she’ll have proper use in the future. Ultimately  whilst it was good and all, with Fairy Kirito and the new people appearing  Sword Art Online should be doing MUCH better than it is right now, with it constantly dipping and failing from time to time, it doesn’t actually have all that many episodes left to spend…so I really hope they know what they’re doing. But yes, I do appreciate that in terms of introduction episodes, it was pretty good.

Sword Art Online Episode 15

Return

Okay, SAO is stepping into dangerous territory here. This episode introduces who, judging from the OP and ED, will be replacing Asuna as the female main character…and it’s none other than Kirito’s “sister”. I honestly think it’s better that I flat out don’t talk about this. She’s nice motivational support to move Kirito from Point A to Point B now that he’s in the real world, but I don’t think she should be anything more.

With the game ending, Asuna and 300 other people just haven’t woken up. Nobody knows why or what’s stopping them apart from the creator, Kayaba, who’s vanished and can’t be found. Thanks to the SAO Incident Task Force of the Government, Kirito managed to find Asuna’s hospital room and has been visiting every day for the last two months. But hey, wait! Time for a little bit of forced drama! This guy who Kirito’s never seen before is going to suddenly marry Asuna in her coma next week, and he doesn’t seem to like Kirito because Kirito’s the main character! Jeez, that really ruined the episode.

With the episode ending when Kirito gets a picture of someone who looks a lot like Asuna from Egil inside an email with the words “New Game” inside them, it doesn’t take a genius to know what’s coming next. To be honest, this episode of Sword Art Online was as flaky as the ideas that it’s trying to stand on, marrying a coma patient, cousin love and what will probably be another nerve-gear game, the bad, forced parts of the episode overshadowed the really good parts and it’s a crying shame.

Autumn 2012: Round Two!

Fighto! >o<

In all seriousness, now that we’ve seen almost everything, here’s the finalised version of who’s covering what, with, rather spectacularly, almost every good show being covered this season.

Alex, after removing all his jokes,  is covering Sword Art Online, Magi, Little Busters

Mimi,currently overjoyed with her new headphones, is covering Shin Sekai Yori, K and Sukitte Ii na yo.

Dusk, won her quest for justice, is covering PYSCHO-PASS, Tonari no Kaibutsu-Kun and Jormungand 2

Doofus, recently exposed as a tsundere, is covering Hunter x Hunter, Gintama 2012 and Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure (Triple helping of Doofus, everyone!)

Liam, after baking everyone a nice cake, is covering Zetsuen no Tempest

Justin, living happily ever after in Canadaland, is covering Space Brothers and Code:Breaker

Sword Art Online Episode 14

The End of the World

Whew, what an anti-climax! That evil boss is dead before the OP rolls.

Anyway, this confirms what I knew about Heathcliff. The Yui episode was just a ridiculously huge hint; but Heathcliff, the guy who can never die, is an immortal object underneath the shield…and also the final boss, the person who would be waiting at Floor 100. Who does this make him? None other than Kayaba Akihiko, the creater of Sword Art Online and the mastermind behind this. With Kirito indentifying him as the mastermind when the skull boss has been killed, he gets offered a chance, the unique opportunity to fight the final boss 1 on 1 before the end. With all props to the story, this scene was handled really well, without making Heathcliff a dues ex machina whilst explaining why Kirito has duel wield without pulling the “strongest guy in the game” cliche.

The fight between the two of them was also really well co-ordinated, since it’s the rule of RPG’s that a swordsman can’t beat a tank. However…the moment Asuna died was when I started to get a little annoyed. After throwing all those death flags last week, it was obvious from the start from Asuna was going to die somehow. Admittedly  taking the final bosses sword slash wasn’t what everyone expected to happen to her, but the fact is that she died. I understand WHY she died, but I don’t like the fact that she did. On top of that, I hate the Dues Ex Machina where Kirito was able to come back after dying. That aside, I loved the scene where the world actually fell apart, and seeing everyone and that amazing fantasy landscape one last time.

What with Kirito, Asuna and Heathcliff being dead, however, they have a different set of circumstances to those who simply got logged out. As they stand above the world of Sword Art Online, watching it fall apart into nothingness, they get to reunite and talk to Kayaba, as the reward for the two who beat the final boss. A tearful goodbye as the two tell each other their real names, hug and spend some final time together later, and they disappear, along with the world of Sword Art Online. Kirito wakes up logged out in the hospital, with memories of Asuna inside his head.I…did NOT see that happening. Sword Art Online ends at Episode 14. What are they planning for the 11 episodes left..?

I know I joked about Kirito and Asuna not dying, but that can be one of two things. It can be some whim of Heathcliff’s, or it can be the more obvious fact that the game didn’t register their deaths before the final boss died. Yes, it had two very horrible dues ex machina’s involved, but you know what? Who gives a crap about cliched settings and things done time and time again? All that matters is that they worked, and damnit, this episode worked.

 

Sword Art Online Episode 13

Edge of Hell’s Abyss

Quite an interesting episode.  Kirito’s finally shown to be a selfish guy who didn’t get strong to help anyone, but for himself and nobody but himself at first. Whilst that was to be expected in the end, it’s nice to finally have some confirmation. Speaking of confirmation, we finally find out what happened to all the players of SAO in the real world. It’s only taken us 13 weeks to see what happened to everyone, and a little bit of extra information on Asuna and Kirito in this world, including some very overdue development on why Asuna and Kirito are both the only happy people in the game as was according to Yui last week.
But you know, that aside, what with the episode starting with Kirito’s fishing adventure, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect…but when Heathcliff sends Kirito a message, it’s pretty clear that vacation time is over. Upon going back to the guild, it’s revealed that the boss this time around is a lovely cheater, sealing the area completely and leaving nothing in the room when other people arrived. As everyone appears, forming the biggest party ever to explore a dungeon, including Heathcliff himself, the time for another boss battle is upon us. Whilst Heathcliff and his invincibility skill would work really well with Kirito and his Duel Wielding skill, that’s assuming that the boss doesn’t have some ridiculous skills up it’s sleeve.

As the Skull Reaper surfaces, it’s ability to land an instant KO simply by landing a hit on someone becomes really obvious, as the body count starts flying like a true end of game boss should. Ending things on a horrible cliffhanger, it looks like Sword Art Online is finally back on track after a literal vacation.