Sword Art Online
Sword Art Online is one of those animes that after you watch it, you just can’t help yourself but to watch it again. The first half of the first season was probably the best string of episodes I have ever watched in an anime series. The way the show captured my attention and sent me into the world of Aincrad with the characters was truly astounding. The series was packed with action scenes, hilarious comic reliefs, and just enough romance to melt your heart.
Plot / Story
In this anime we are thrown into the world of the near future in Japan. A brand new VRMMORPG (Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) has just been released to market; however, there are only 10,000 copies being released! Our main character, Kazuto, is one of those lucky few. In fact, he is even more special. Kazuto was a part of the small group of BETA testers that actually tested the game out before it was released, so by the start of the anime, our beloved character is already addicted to this new world.
Shortly after the launch of the game, something is terribly wrong. The logout button is missing from the menu. After a forced teleport and an announcement by the game master, it is clear that this is a “feature” of Sword Art Online and “not a bug.” The players are trapped within the game, any attempt to free them from the world from the outside will result in death. The only way to get out of the game is to clear it, or die trying.
Our number one man realizes that he has to become as powerful as possible, and sets out to accomplish just that. For most of the first half of the season, he is an extreme loner. Especially after a conflict with other players after the defeat of the first boss, which lead other players to believe he is a cheat, or as he is referred to in the game, he is a “beater.”
Our hero goes on to make a name for himself. He is commonly referred to as a beater, but also as the “Black Swordsman” who solos the front lines, which in this anime, is unheard of. Along the journey Kirito, as he is called in the game, meets friends and eventually breaks out of his loner streak. Though it is well established that he almost always prefers to go it alone, even later in the series. He goes on to make many friendships, most notably with Klein, the comic relief character, and Asuna, his love interest.
Sequels / Arcs
After the first season of SAO, they came out with SAO II, also known as Gun Gale Online, and a few short arcs. There are also some extra short movies here and there, but nothing really too spectacular. The second season of SAO really dropped out for me; the story just didn’t have that much weight to it. The plot is Kirito is sent into another game (GGO) in order to investigate mysterious deaths that appear to be happening around a character called “Death Gun.” This season introduces another supporting character, that was well liked, but was met with a lot of heat due to the fact that she often flirted with our boy. Fans of the Asuna x Kirito pair, we not amused. Especially whenever Asuna is introduced as Kirito’s “friend.”
Aside from that, the arcs that take place after SAO II are a little dry. The only one worth mentioning is Mother’s Rosario, the latest release. This short arc restores your faith in the series even though our main character, Kirito, only makes subtle appearances. This arc focues on the development of Asuna, and her journey to join a small guild that wants to take on a boss alone. The emotional rollercoaster you go on with this arc is intense, just to warn you.
In conclusion, this is a fantastic anime series. You should definitely give this one a go, especially since it is available in both dub and sub. The series did a great job picking out English voice actors; Kirito is a little hard to adjust to, but you get used to him. I feel like this anime has a perfect combination of action, adventure, romance, friendship, and comedy. I would prefer to have a little more romance action between Kirito and Asuna, but the emotional “I love you” Asuna whispers as Kirito holds off a massive guild will just have to do.