quarta-feira, 19 de fevereiro de 2014

[Anime Review] Sword Art Online

Well, with the next installment of Sword Art Online coming together (the intelligently called Sword Art Online II), I figured it was time to put together a review for the first part. 

And here we go!

(As always, all the technical information you want can be found here.)


So, Sword Art Online is about the age old question of what happens when people get stuck inside a virtual reality game. Yeah. From the beginning then: there´s a game that uses a type of helmet (Nervgear) that allows one to be fully immersed into a virtual reality where one plays a MMORPG, one of those RPG´s where people play online and alongside a lot of other players (hence the name Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game). So they get stuck, because the creator of the game made it so, and they have to get themselves out of the game, by playing all the levels and winning them all. This time, however, they cannot die, because once a player dies in the game, s/he dies in real life.

For some reason (not the being a dedicated gamer reason, but a plot device reason), we have a very cool character that is just so damn good that this dying issue won´t be a problem for him. And, curiously, like Neo in the Matrix, he dresses in all black.

Coming to think about it, there are some similarities between the Matrix and SAO, but this is a subject for another topic...



Sword Art Online was a good viewing experience. I confess that the first time I saw it, I actually moved on to another thing in about 10 minutes or so. But after hearing about it for quite a while, I decided to give it another shot, and this time I stuck with it till the end of the first episode. From then on it was cake. All the episodes flew by.

I had a good experience because, despite the story becoming quite boring in the last episodes, the first ones are quite good in establishing the story and the characters. Many didn´t like SAO much, but those that did had a reason. My personal reason was the lamest, shallowest of them all - I liked the main character. To me, Kirito, despite being a bona fide Marty Stu character, embodies what I think main characters should be. I relate to his persona (well, most of it anyways), and his drama, so I could relate to his journey. He is also an overall "cool" character, with all the black clothing and cool aliases (the black swordsman? C´mon!), and cool weapons, and being "super awesome" at the game that everybody is afraid of playing. He is a wish fulfillment, it´s clear, but being that what it was, it was enough for me to enjoy it.

The anime also has an overall good quality of animation, and also a classical soundtrack that goes with it, and at least one song is penned by Yuki Kajiura herself, AKA "Goddess of the Epic Anime Soundtracks".

What is not so good?

Everybody, at least the majority of people I know (or whose opinions I have read), agree in one thing - the second part of the story, wherein the characters move on to another game called Alfheim Online, is crap.

I´m sorry to say it, but I think it is. I don´t know which part is worse, the part where they become elves, complete with the little pointy ears and all, or the part where there are thousands of people wanting to murder Kirito for almost zero reasons, or the part where his sister (turned cousin for obvious reasons) wants to desperately sleep with him, or the part where it turns out the animators thought they could bring a lot more people to watch the anime if they turn up the fan-service by 110%, or the part where.... forget it, it´s all nonsensical.

Some parts more than others. 

Actually, some people might say (I being one) that Sword Art Online jumped the shark, when it became almost like a serial drama about the love between Kirito and Asuna. They gave up their weapons for a time and decided to live together in a house inside the game, even going as far as adopting an AI child to take care of. I mean, what am I watching, a slice of life anime? C´mon. Last time I checked the name of the anime was SWORD ART ONLINE! SWORD! Anyway. 

I know that this is to set up the character arc, and it´s supposed to deepen our understanding of the drama of the characters, and I got this. But it became a little too much, in my point of view. Even worse, considering that they decided to transform Asuna, that was a warrior in par to Kirito, as a mere plot device, in the second half of the show. Not that I don´t care much anyways, because I enjoy these kind of stories as well, being a man. But why delve into so much Kirito and Asuna when she´s just going to become Rapunzel way ahead?


Now, it might seem like I hated the show, but I didn´t, it actually was enjoyable when I was watching it. Like I said, what mainly made me want to watch it was Kirito being a badass, and his character was for me, very relatable. So there was that. In the end, despite thinking the show had declined in quality (plot wise) I decided to keep watching it, and the fights, although diminishing in quantity, still were pretty good. So yeah.

Eager to watch part II of it, and see how good they can make it!

Positive Points:

- Badass character who is not a prick;
- Style;
- Good animation;
- Good soundtrack;
- Good battles;

Negative Points:

- What the hell was up with Alfheim Online?
- Alfheim Online;
- Everything that happened during the second part of the anime... and Alfheim Online;
- Have I mentioned Alfheim Online?

RATING - 4 crows

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