Note: The following review was written a long time ago, before our migration to WordPress and when our reviewing skills were still noob-level. Apologies.
Adapted from a light novel series of the same title
Produced by: Aniplex, A-1 Pictures
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Romance
Number of episodes: 25
Ten thousand players have logged onto the mysterious game “Sword Art Online” using their Nerve Gear, only to find out later that they are actually trapped inside the game. The only way to escape the game is to ‘clear’ it, and death in the game translates to reality. Kirigaya Kazuto (AKA Kirito), one of the many gamers, refuses to back down from this fight. However, to meet the conditions of clearing the game and leaving this twisted virtual world, he must get through all 100 floors. Will Kirito have what it takes to clear the game, or will he die trying?
Kirigaya Suguha/Leafa (Lyfa)
Sugou Nobuyuki/Fairy King Oberon
Overall Rating: 4/5 moons
Story – 7.5/10
I loved this anime, I have to admit. Everything about it was just perfect when I was watching it. The visuals were stunning, the audio was catchy, the story line was touching and action-packed enough to be exciting. There was also romance and even comedy. It was like everything I loved married to video games, and what’s not to love about that?
Turns out, quite a bit could be wrong. Even though the story was flawless in its entertainment value, the character development was sparse. For a story that could potentially deal issues about the distortion of reality and more, there was little development in the story and characters that banked in on that. However, for most people (including myself), it was easily ignored while watching it. The pacing of the story was good, and the action and romance was exciting enough to cloud everything else.
The only thing that was quite obviously wrong was the romance, which seemed a little out of place to me. As much as I enjoyed watching it, I think that the pacing for the romance moments were too rushed, like something they just threw in to create the whole power couple effect. Instead, I would have preferred if they focused on the war-related themes of the series, which this kind of concept is just dying to have discussed. For this series, it was half-pushed aside in favour for a more positive and romanticising outlook. It’s also because of that that I couldn’t quite take the deaths that seriously, as much as they moved me.
Character – 6/10
While we’re still talking about characters, as good as they were clothes-wise, they weren’t particularly creative personality-wise. Kirito and Asuna, as the two main characters, have a surprising lack of personality. Even though they’re cool and all, Kirito is mostly just your average harem main protagonist save for some heroic tendencies. That is, he’s a complete badass and has every reason for girls to like him, but he’s also quite the pushover and seems to be a yes-man when it comes to girls. Personally, I just found that frustrating at times.
Asuna, on the other hand, had a rather docile (though occasionally cheeky) personality. Sure, she fit the bill for a strong heroine, but she was also rather tame and uninteresting as a character. Just like her romantic interest, they were both surprisingly one-dimensional. Sometimes, I even thought that the side characters showed more sides of their personality than these two.
The audio was undoubtedly catchy, but the shining star was really the visuals. The scenery in this anime were gorgeous. Having the “trapped in a game” aspect opened up tons of video game related visuals which were just a feast for the eyes. The frame rate was above average, especially during the action scenes. The character design was also good clothes-wise. I loved the amount of attention put into the items they equip, the outfits they wear etc. Overall, a definite high rating for the visuals.
Even with its flaws, Sword Art Online managed to hold together very well, like they were practically non-existent. While not the best pick for otakus with a higher standard of taste, this one is great to recommend to non-otaku friends because of how suitable it is for almost every kind of audience. Its story line is also sufficiently straight forward, yet touching and exciting. There’s honestly no wonder why so many people are obsessed with it.