April 21, 2015

Sword Art Online [Rant and Review]

Usually Tuesdays are for Reviews. I review something and post about it. Well, in desperation and slight boredom, I decided to marathon the second season [and 3-5 arcs] of Sword Art Online since I already have seen Season 1 of it. Bad idea. Very very bad idea.

Welcome to Rant Week where I wax on about things that annoy me. You can suggest subjects in the comments below. If you don't want to read about such things, see you next week which I promise will be far less rant-y. 

I have a very love/hate relationship with SAO. There is a good chunk of things that I love about it from the art, [occasionally] the cast, the animation, the soundtrack and then there are things I absolutely hate about it like most of the antagonists, the damsel-izing of most of the female cast, Kirito's blatant Gary Stu-ness and so on. So I am going to break this down in this long, and frankly a bit rant-y review.

Game Start!

So for those who are not in the know, SAO or Sword Art Online [Sōdo Āto Onrain to the weebs] is a pretty long series of light novels by Reki Kawahara. The books, which is 15 novels and still going, has been adapted into games, anime and manga but today I am going to talk to you about the anime. I have not played the game nor read the novels or the manga so maybe I am biased. If you think that, this rant/review is not for you.

The basic premise that started off this whole crazy ride is Sword Art Online, a virtual reality MMORPG [massive multiplayer online role playing game] that used this technology called NerveGear. With NerveGear people are fully immersed into the game with all 5 senses. However, on the day the game was to open and over 10,000 people were logged in, none of them were able to log out. SAO's creator, Akihiko Kayaba, informed them that the only way to leave the game was to clear all 100 levels of SAO and if they die in the game, their real bodies died as well.

Anyway, SAO is mainly focused on Kirito, our protagonist who winds up in these crazy life or death games and situations. He comes out on top often but at the cost of his morals/sanity/health more often than not. The secondary protagonist [and possible winner of the Kirito-bowl] is Asuna who is rich girl with rich girl problems but online she is a badass with a sword...when she isn't being the support healer type.

The rest of the cast aside from those two are mostly forgettable with the exception of Sinon, Leefa and Yuuki but I will talk about those three later.

The Winner is You!

I really, REALLY liked the first arc. Yes it has been done [and done well] by the .hack series but it had all the things I wanted in this kind of series. It had drama, a mostly fleshed out cast, a great protag, a love interest that could not only defend herself but also save her man's ass as well. The art was and is gorgeous and the music is just super.

I also really enjoyed the Caliber arc and Mother's Rosario. For one thing, Caliber gave the whole cast something to do and it was more than just sitting around and being amazed by Kirito. Mother's Rosario was touching and gave Asuna a bunch of character development that she was severely lacking. Also, I found myself in TEARS over Yuuki of all people. Yes, I thought her arc was rushed and kind of contrived but dammit I was crying over her.
I honestly thought Kirito was a trap again. This is what I get skipping the intro


Just. I honestly don't know where to start with this but I will try and break it down. For the art, it had a really bad case of same face and frankly, I can only tell the girls apart by boob sizes and hair. If you only showed me faces with no hair, I would honestly get Kirito mixed up with the chicks. Which is really a shame since the rest of the cast like Agil and Klein had distinguishing features. Why would you pull this cookie cutter shit on the main cast???

Going on, Kirito is the modern day Gary Sue. He wins way too often [by deus ex machina no less], angsts far too much, has a harem and a main squeeze and frankly is too perfect. He gets away with a lot since he's the main character, more or less, but I see your shit, SAO. And I don't like it.

Secondly the thing that made me give up on SAO for a bit was the Fairy Dance arc. The second half of season one killed any hope I had for this series. Let's list it off shall we?
  • Asuna is a damsel in distress
  • Kirito angsting all over the fucking place
  • The creepy molester dude that tried to rape Asuna
  • Fairies
I really hated this arc. Really, really, hated this arc. The first arc, Aincrad, worked so hard to build Asuna up as such a great character but the last 5 or so episodes of season 1 just fucking ruined it like a baby bumping into your carefully built jenga blocks. Also the incest which totally didn't need to be in there. First they thought it was brother/sister incest but no, turns out Kirito and Leefa are cousins. Just really? 

Now for Gun Gale Online arc. I heard a lot of good things about this but all I have come to realize is that you lot, have VERY shit taste. The pacing was horrible. 5 episodes in I knew Sinon's backstory and why it didn't matter and Kirito was already getting a smoke in Angst-town. 

Also, again with the rape-y antagonist. Just really, the guy had a nice face if he had some guts, he would be landing ass all the damn time. Must he go after the ONE girl who didn't like him??

I will say this though, those faces the evil-type characters make will haunt my nightmares. Thanks a lot SAO. 

Not the worst face but the only one I could stand to look at.
Also another thing was that some things that shouldn't be rushed, like big character moments, were squeezed into 15 minutes or so but things that don't need to be, like Sinon being assaulted, was dragged out for like 2 episodes. Dishonor. Dishonor on you. Dishonor on your COW. 

Level Up!

It's actually really easy to fix SAO. There are four really big points that need to be fixed and everything else would be in the clear. 

Pacing and Writing

The pacing is really damn horrible and even more so with GGO. Give each arc 12 episodes and let it play out as if there is not going to be another season. The arcs should be self contained and really if you need to downgrade a great character to make another character cool, then you are doing writing wrong. Also certain things that should be dragged on are not the more horrible moments, if anything it should be the better times, like when a character triumphs against their challenges. 


Not putting up with your shit, SAO
You can argue with me until you are blue in the face that this isn't a harem situation. Oh really? Kirito is surrounded by 6 girls on the regular after GGO arc. One is only SLIGHTLY too young, another calls him Daddy in a non-kinky way and another is his cousin [pffft, like that actually stops her but]. Even though Asuna is his girlfriend [when they are not playing the timeless Japanese Sport of 'cannot spit it out'], that leaves at least two girls there that wants his affections if not attentions. And Klein is the comedic relief. Give the girls goals away from Kirito. It already worked [slightly] with Sinon and Asuna has really matured thanks to Mother's Rosario. Also, give Klein a real love interest, preferably one of the girls. He's a great character and should get something other than the Comedic Sidekick of the Year award.


He is a likable protagonist BUT he's boring. He's too perfect and the little moments he's not doesn't make him likable or stand out in any kind of way. Give him some real flaws and make him lose a bit more. Have him play in more situations that are not life or death.


Best Antagonist Coming Through!
The only antagonist I acknowledge in this whole series is Kayaba. He was a plot twist and I understood his motives very well. He wasn't lewd and for what he wanted to accomplish, he worked very hard on it. That earns my respect. The fact that he was personable is just bonus. Those that came after him were just selfish scum that didn't truly work hard and snatched up whatever they could including girls. I understand that that last bit was in to fire Kirito up to fight but that's going about it the wrong way. The characters are despicable on their own, they don't need to be lewd to 'spice things up' as it were. Give them serious motivations and have them work their arse off on it. 

Game Over. Continue?

I really, really want to like SAO. It has the making for being a really great anime. But it has horrors, more horrors than I can stand and I don't want to ride into it's haunted house anymore. It has a lot of things that make it great like the music and art but the harem, the unneeded drama, the 'villains' and the goddamn Gary Stu is making me board the NOPEtrain to NOPEville. 

Sword Art Online 1 and 2
Rating: 3/10

1 comment

  1. Yeah... I kinda agree with you.. I was pretty disappointed with the Fairy Dance and Gun Gale arcs too :/


© Zero Gravity Inq
Maira Gall