So, I recently did a review of Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale. In that I said that Kristen and I had just started watching the anime so we knew a little bit about it since she got free tickets from her anime writing at Twin Cities Geek. So we wrapped up just about a week ago the first season of Sword Art Online.
To recap a little bit about what I said on Ordinal Scale, this anime as a whole seems more like a popcorn anime. It doesn’t have a ton of depth of the bad guys, the good guys develop some depth, but it’s not a very important focus. There seems like there should be because of the theme of getting trapped in a video game and having to beat the game in order to survive. They should have been able to really delve into the psyche of the players in the game, and while they do some of that, it doesn’t really build too much upon that. I do appreciate though that the show has never been about the boss fights, and while there are fights, it’s never drawn out that long.
Now, there are some weird things about this show as well, the first being the lack of motivation for the first bad guy. He seems to have created this world simply because he could and there doesn’t seem to be any more reason than t hat. The second being how it switches in the middle when the new bad guy takes over. Without getting into spoilers, it goes to a creepy dark sort of place and feel, all without really being all that creepy or dark still. It’s just kind of weird how it changes. It almost has a George RR Martin feel to it (not in terms of killing everyone) but where in book four he seemingly decided, I’m bored with these characters, let me write about new ones for no good reason and introduce magic. Sword Art Online kind of has a similar feel to that about half way through the first season. If it weren’t for the fact that you were invested into the story at that point, say this had happened in the first four episodes, I’m not sure I would have continued with the anime. But I think if you are forewarned about the change, it’ll be easier to watch and keep into the story.
With all of that out of the way, the basic premise for the show is that there is an awesome new MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game) where you get into the game as a full dive. This full dive technology basically allows you to feel like you are 100% in the gaming world. So when 10,000 players who get the first copies log in, they are super excited to start killing monsters, hanging out, and killing boars because obviously you have to kill boars to level up faster. Things change drastically when everyone is teleported back to the city of beginnings (where you spawn to start the game) and they all find out that the creator of the game and the full dive system has locked everyone into the world so they can’t log out, the only way to escape the world is to make it to level 100 of the world defeating the bosses along the way and if you die in the game, you die in real life. We follow our main character, Kirito as he battles by himself through the world and finds out that while he can’t save everyone, he needs to try to save them.
It’s an interesting premise, like I said, and it doesn’t focus on the boss battles, in fact they maybe show a handful of snippets of them throughout the show. This show focuses in on the people who are in the world and how they react to being trapped in the world. It takes a fairly light approach to it as there seems to be less concern about being the game than one would expect, but as relationships develop, characters die, and it’s been a long time in the real world, it creates an interesting dynamic. If it had gone darker than it did, I think I’d have a fairly different view on this. Often when I’m watching anime I want something that is enjoyable, makes me think some, but I don’t generally want something that weighs on me too much.
Sword Art Online (Season 1) is one that I’d recommend to people. While it is light and doesn’t go to the depth that it could, and has that swerve in the middle to a different sort of story, it’s enjoyable, it doesn’t seem like a long show. It’s the light beer of anime (as I said in my review for Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale ) I don’t think that is really a bad thing in this case. I’d say that I’ve seen better Anime shows, such as The Devil is a Part-Timer! (expect a review on that later), but Sword Art Online is worth the time watching it and most people will find it enjoyable.
P.S. I know that Sword Art Online is kind of fun to hate on for a lot of people because it’s lighter. If you go into it knowing it’s light and decide that you hate on it because it’s light, get a job.
P.S.S. (Forgot to put this in the first place) – This is also an anime that you can probably watch either dubbed or subbed without missing all that much.
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