Sword Art Online Seaon 1&2 Part 1 Review


Hello, once again lovelies! I have been busy fixing our new apartment (I moved!) and I have got to say that I love Montreal! The city life has always been my cup of tea, and towns... they can disappear for all I care. Tonikaku, I just had to say that I got internet not too long ago, and it’s unlimited! YES! Thus, I won’t have to worry about busting it just like the 60 GBs I used to have. I always went overboard since I am an anime watcher, and I am living with four other people.

During this time, I decided to type this review on Microsoft Word. Sword Art Online is one heck of a difficult anime to watch/review, and based on its popularity, I had to be careful to judge it for what it is, and not what others make it out to be. The reviews are usually mixed, leaning more on the negative, and I have to agree:  SAO is definitely not the best thing out there. After a full examination of both seasons, I will be dividing it into two parts as it is quite a long review.



Jah, having said that, let’s get started!

 Synopsis:

In the near future, a Virtual Reality Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG) called Sword Art Online has been released where players can control their avatars through brain waves using technology called "NerveGear". When players enter the game, they discover they cannot log out, as the game creator is holding them captive. To escape, players must beat the game by defeating each boss on all 100 floors. However, if they die in the game, they die in real life too. Their struggle for survival starts now...
Read more at http://myanimelist.net/anime/11757/Sword_Art_Online#DLXiPE3pfEqSAK7M.99


World Building:
SAO is an anime that I enjoyed for many different reasons and I also hated just as strongly for the obvious: SAO saw its potential sail out of the window with such an incredible, promising premise.  It was such a unique twist on the MMORPG/video game genre.   There are many different path such a world could have taken a turn. It could have been a “there could only be one’ type (though that is somewhat overused), or it could have done something nearly as good as SNK. The world of SAO was terribly underdeveloped. The show tried so hard to make up for what it is lacking through senseless action and by focusing on the most trivial matters.  On that destructive path, SAO became riddled with hard-to-overlook plot holes. It seems to be almost every event that happens exists solely for the sake of Kirito, to show how badass he is and how well he can fight, while every female falls for him. It felt like a harem show very often.
Hey, you contributed barely anything to the plot! Another bachelorette!
The only purpose of the girls, it seems, is to make potential love mates for Kirito like some messed up The Bachelor, anime-style. There isn’t a SINGLE girl that had not fallen for him. It was downright disturbing and hilarious at the same time. It was completely irrelevant to SAO and this only scratched the surface of the problem.
The show spends so much time showing its devices that it takes away some of the serious of the main platform. Remember, SAO takes itself very seriously. Too seriously, in fact. Because, OMG, ingredients??!! Let’s make burgers! Asuna, be a dear and let Kirito make surprised faces: those that resemble someone NEVER having tasted mustard (or whatever it was) before. Let’s explore all these curio spices! Why not take these beautiful qualities and contrast them? The author could have shown how amazing SAO is and how nightmarish it is also.  Instead, we have Asuna wanting to get into Kirito’s pants (that part was so dang awkward and out of the blue) and her acting like a total tsundere as if that was supposed to make her winsome somehow.




Human nature could have been thoroughly explored. This device could have transitioned into a more grey/grey territory, to show that even the kindest among the kind can be corrupted from the will and desire to survive. People could have been taking advantage of the world to let their worst sides come out. Instead, we have wannabe murderers, the show trying to build a nonexistent tension, and many, many plot devices as characters.

Characters:

Sadly, since SAO focuses so much time on building Kirito and a crappy world, the secondary characters are complete, complete plot devices. In other words, generally, spectacularly unlikable:
Asuna: Love partner. Major plot point of ALO.
Suguha (Sister): Drama, wincest
Yui: Supposes to know what others don’t. Helps move along the plot when the amazing Kirito is stuck. Serves as an “aww, she is so cute” to the audience, ‘cause we gotta have something like that.
Klein: The dork. Kirito’s friend. He serves as foil for him. He is dorky, whereas Kirito is not. Kirito gets all the girls: he fights to even gain the attention of one. Kirito is a badass: Klein learned the smallest basics from him, etc. In other words, he is another plot device to make Kirito look even more badass.
Agil: Exists...to make swords.
That was THE single best fight of SAO. EP.9
These characters possess little to no personality. They try to make them somewhat interesting (what with the girl capable of making swords: made the turquoise one) by giving them...redeeming (?) qualities, but that doesn’t work. Every character is one-dimensional, and Kirito is no less. They are impossible to relate to. I am saying that the author failed at making humans. Humans are very complex creatures, and when, for example, your main character possesses fewer than five expressions (apart from rage, no expression, annoyance, surprise and acquiescence), don’t expect to go very far.  Also, do not expect to captivate your audience. It enrages me every time that I remember that the characters are part of the d├ęcor, a way to fill up gaping holes. It makes for very poor, unfulfilling writing.

Character Interactions/Audience Interaction:
Ha-ha, oh, lol. This part is probably my favorite. You know, audience-wise, you watch a show, you feel different sorts of emotions when that one particular scene calls for it? It may be rage, pain, envy, extreme sadness or you blatantly start to cry?  Such scenes, when incorporated into a story, make for an invigorating experience that leaves a great impression on you. Feeling a plethora of sentiments is something that I am always looking for in a story.

Don’t expect this from SAO. 

The emotions the show was trying so express failed so miserably that I became depressed. It is all because of the barely-noticeable characters. For example: earlier on the show, Kirito who was part of a guild, went on a hunt with its members for something that I don’t quite remember. There, they were led into a trap. Kirito, having (possibly) known that it was a trap, did not warn the members and they were killed one by one. Depressing, right? No, not really. Kirito had become attached to this cute girl with dark hair and he watches her disappear in front of him. He liked that girl, it was obvious (I don’t mean romantically) and I should have been crying right? Right?! Let me explain to you something: I am a very emotional 

People affect me a lot because I can feel everything a person usually is feeling, the moment that they are near me. It is no different for the screens. The death of Mayoi Hachikuji in Monogatari Series Second Season made tears pour down my face in rivers. I thought that the world had ended. Why? She was a very well developed character. The girl that died in front of Kirito was like me squashing a fly. Usually I feel disgust, but since she did not disgust me, I just felt annoyance because the scene was going too slowly. The feels are stiff, forced and shallow. At the end of the day, only the action in SAO mattered to me and that is horrible. I did not feel sad, no, I didn’t even care. For her and all other characters that died. Even Kirito had difficulty affecting me, what with all his self-deprecation: it’s my fault, blah, blah, blah. Remember that part when Yui regained her memories? Yeah, That was grating and I cringed so hard at the awkward direction. Again, forced and shallow.
The show has barely any tension. The ones that make you go: Oh sh*t, don’t go in the closet! types (you get the jest). Not only that, but the dialogue was...laughable at best. It never once conveyed personality. You can tell that the author copy-pasted characters and they never came to him naturally. SAO never got better in this section.

Plot holes:


How can someone spend two years in a video game, without once waking up, in a hospital, etc...? What about the basic human needs: such as eating, drinking, using the toilet, walking, etc...??!! That is probably the biggest gaping hole in SAO. Terribly difficult to overlook, it goes hand to hand with that ridiculous two-year time skip that happened out of nowhere.  I don’t understand how Kirito had not died within the first month. This was never explained.
            The show also never focused on those people that died within the game. Thus, it felt like false advertising as I spent the whole time watching the show wondering what happened to them. A funeral, the news, screaming parents; anything could have made SAO seemed even more traumatizing. But, nope. None of that.  All you get is badly conveyed emotions where you are supposed to mourn the passing. That, of course, never happened.

Kirigaya Kazuto (Kirito)
That has to  be the single best sword pose I have ever seen.

           
How could I possibly write so much without addressing the resident MC? Kirito is, without a doubt, my favorite character. I actually really, really like Kirito. Even when I am dissing the females for always falling head over heels for him, my case is different. I don’t have any other characters to fall head over heels for. Jah, I have no other choice then.
             Kirito was your typical I-stay-at-home-on-my-computer-all-day-and-play-video-games type of boy. A beta tester, he was more advanced and had more knowledge about the SAO world than most characters. Right off the bat, the show established him as a complete, overpowered badass.  He was going to be a force to be reckoned with, and gawd, was he! He stood there as a bunch of players came at home, and not once did he falter! I swooned, I really did. He is a badass, and I admit it, because the show focused so much time on molding him into just that. He is the single best-looking character in the show and-
I wish I could fight like that. This animation is freaking amazing. 
His seiyuu. Dear gawd, his seiyuu! My ovaries exploded the first time I heard Kirito speak. Help me, his voice is so freaking sexy!! I love listening to Kirito’s battle roars, his grunts, moans, screams, gasps, etc. They all sounded amazing. Oh jeez, even his seiyuu is badass! The clothes he wears are badass! The swords he brandishes are badass! I think that I have settled him even more as a one-dimensional character, but that is what he is. 
Love it when he is pissed....
He is generally awkward (the wiki says rude, but my ass about that) possesses the fewest facial expressions, but his rage faces are the single best things about the show. This guy can be pretty brutal. For example in EP 20, him vs. General Eugene, Kirito kept slashing his opponent over and over again and he got pissed when the general wasn’t dying. 
He even MOVES too quickly. 
He became even more brutal. I love Kirito, but I also like Klein. They are the only good characters in the show, though mediocre at best.  But they are the only aspects of the show that kept me going.

Final Thoughts (for now):
This is only part 1 of my full review. The other part will focus on ALO more. The ending of SAO was very rushed. The scene could have been a bit stretched and fleshed out to fully execute a wham within the viewer. The last battle, though anticlimactic (wasn’t that exciting), troubled me because of Kirito. This was the only time when I felt some sadness and pain. It finally had the depressing factor to it. In the next part, I will be discussing the animation, art style, character designs, soundtracks, Asuna, and all other characters. Stay tuned for it and my fall rating!

SAO Review Part One: 6.5/10 for animation, Kirito, soundtracks and amazing action scenes and overall enjoyment. 

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