Jump to content





* * * * *

Sword Art Online Review

Posted by Nathan, 09 May 2013 · 11,415 views

MMORPG Anime Fantasy Technology
Before I start I want to mention that any words underlined like this are words that have an explanation on my glossary page so you may want to have a look at that if you don't understand those words.


So I've wanted to do this for a while, that is write about anime and manga, but it doesn't really belong as an article, nor does it exactly fit in with the theme of the rest of the site. Eventually it occurred to me that it would be perfect for a blog. And I recently started watching the perfect series to kick this off for this site since even if your not a fan of anime or manga if your on this site you're probably a fan of The Elder Scrolls series (which are fantasy RPGs) or your a remnant of the old Runescape Clan (which is an MMORPG) so Sword Art Online is a good fit.

Sword Art Online was initially going to be Reki Kawahara's competition entry for ASCII Media Works' Dengeki Game Novel Prize, but he ended up exceeding the word limit so he published it online instead and ended up writing more volumes and a few short stories. He entered the competition again with a different work called "Accel World" and won the grand prize. ASCII Media Works asked to not only publish Accel World but also Sword Art Online, and so it was published as a light novel and was no longer available online. It has since been adapted into several manga series and an anime and even a game. At first I was confused by the order of the different versions and what differences in the story they had. It turns out its not that complicated. Basically the novel currently consists of 6 story arcs (across 12 volumes), there is a different manga series for each arc and the anime covers the first 2 arcs. The game is an original story on what might have happened if the first arc had turned out differently. Okay that sounds confusing, but its actually not as bad as it sounds especially once you're further in the series.


The anime (which I have watched through completely) consists of 25 episodes and is fairly recent, having only started and finished late last 2012. Its yet to be given an english dub (if it does end up getting one) however it has been subtitled in english and is being streamed officially by a few sites at the moment (I know crunchyroll has the entire series and madman, which has the distribution rights for Australia, has begun streaming before they have a DVD release) which is great because it means you can support the creators of the anime (rather than getting it illegally) without having to pay huge anime prices for the DVD, in fact it shouldn't cost you a thing.

So the story starts in the year 2022, when the worlds first Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG) is released. If your like me you may have be thinking about how unoriginal the topic of Virtual Reality Games are, and how they've never really been explored that well, but bare with me, as I will explain in a moment this series actually does things quite well. Anyway Sword Art Online (SAO for short) is the worlds first VRMMORPG and has a very limited initial release to only 10,000 players after a beta test of 1000 beta testers. At the beginning of the first episode the main character Kazuto Kirigaya (more often referred to by his username, Kirito) is teaching another player how to fight within the game since he was one of the lucky people to be selected for Beta testing and has a better understanding of the game. Shortly afterwards they realize the log out button is missing. For a moment they assume this must just be a bug, and reflect on how such a big bug could impact on the future sales of the game, until there is a system announcement and they are force teleported to the center of the the Town of Beginnings along with all the other players. The creator of SAO, Kayaba Akihiko, appears and announces that its not a bug and that the system was designed to trap them in there, and the only way to escape is to clear all 100 floors and pass the game, furthermore if you die in the game you die in reality as well.

Real life death in a virtual reality game isn't exactly a new concept, in fact its been the plot of several movies and books etc but I've always found those stories quite poorly thought out or at least poorly explained. For example they rarely do a very good job of explaining how death in the game causes death in the real world, however in this series they explain very clearly how the same system that reads and blocks signals from the brain (so that you can run in the game without running into a wall in the real world for example) and that sends signals to the brain to show the world, can just as easily trigger certain parts of the brain to deactivate it, thus killing you. The other issue I've always had is why doesn't someone in the real world just notice somethings wrong and remove the player, and sometimes they explain this by something like time isn't moving in reality (which is stupid) but again they explain in SAO that attempting to remove the device triggers the same response that kills the brain. Okay again, not exactly new, similar stuff has been done before but how do people in the real world know that removing the device will kill you and the thing is in Sword Art Online the general public don't initially know, but as Kayaba Akihiko announces 200 people had already died this way within the first moments of the game so people quickly learned.

So basically I really enjoyed the way they explained the theory behind everything that's going on in SAO, but I also really like some of the themes they explore. Firstly I think its quite obvious that the author understood games on a personal level. There's also issues of prejudice (similar to racism) towards the Beta players by other players for supposedly not sharing information. Then even in this world where death is real there are still Player Killers (PKers) and people gradually work out how to exploit the system to do things like kill people in safe zones without them being able to put up a fight. The other thing is despite being a fantasy game, SAO doesn't allow players to use magic and they even mention in the series how risky that is for an RPG but it works perfectly and its something that is eventually explored in later story arcs.

The graphics and design of the characters as well as the SAO world is amazing heck even the way the menus look and work is awesome. I was very quickly reminded of all the praise Skyrim got for its amazing expansive Mountain landscape when I saw all the landscape of SAO and just how massive that world is. The buildings and towns and even the dungeons all look amazing and like they really fit in as well as looking realistic and you can tell a lot of work has been put into it.

One issue I had was that a lot of time seems to be skipped between episodes, they seem to clear about 10 floors between most episodes and within 15 episodes 2 years has passed. But its also understandable why they did it to quote the anime "Every gamer knows how boring it is to watch someone else play an RPG". This is possibly more an issue in the anime, rather than the novel and manga. I've only just started reading the novel but I feel like it's quite possible that it fills the gaps in a bit more.

Something I thought was quite interesting was although SAO is such a short anime it used the extra side stories (which don't necessarily fit in with the rest of the series from what I've heard). Usually I really hate fillers but in SAO they work. They don't stand out from the rest of the series as being different like most fillers do and they actually add to the character development.

Anyway I really enjoyed this series and highly recommend it.




Sounds interesting, but I don't know if I could deal with having no english dub. I'm not an anime/manga guy in the first place, so that's enough to dissuade me.

 

Might watch a bit just to get some context, though.

Sounds interesting, but I don't know if I could deal with having no english dub. I'm not an anime/manga guy in the first place, so that's enough to dissuade me.

I was just wondering whether there were any plans to dub the series so I looked it up and I saw that they announced early last month that they will be (no idea when though).

 

Also I plan to update/rewrite this a little bit. There were a few things that I intended to write about that I forgot to put in and some of the writing I did was just a bit sloppy (due to me writing it for so long, trying to avoid spoiling it as much as possible etc)

This is a really great synopsis of the anime and review. I really enjoyed this anime. Most reviewers say the story is really bland and most people tend to like the anime because they themselves are MMO players and can relate to the terminology and different aspects of the anime.

I had the same issue with time flying by really fast. Another thing that bothered me was the SAO (Sword Art Online) arc was great, but the ALO (ALfheim Online) arc was super dry.

I also really liked Accel World, I like how they both take place in the same universe. They eventually make a crossover in the Accel World Light Novels.

This is a really great synopsis of the anime and review. I really enjoyed this anime. Most reviewers say the story is really bland and most people tend to like the anime because they themselves are MMO players and can relate to the terminology and different aspects of the anime.

I had the same issue with time flying by really fast. Another thing that bothered me was the SAO (Sword Art Online) arc was great, but the ALO (ALfheim Online) arc was super dry.

I also really liked Accel World, I like how they both take place in the same universe. They eventually make a crossover in the Accel World Light Novels.

Thanks for the feedback. Yeah I felt the same way about the ALO arc, I thought it was still good but definitely nowhere near as good. I wanted to talk about that in the article but I felt like just mentioning the ALO arc kind of spoils the ending of the SAO arc.

 

I've been intending to read or at least watch Accel World, I knew obviously that its by the same author and similar themes but I didn't realise it actually takes place in the same universe as well, that's pretty cool.

 

Also its awesome to see you on here again :)

I've been intending to read or at least watch Accel World, I knew obviously that its by the same author and similar themes but I didn't realise it actually takes place in the same universe as well, that's pretty cool.


Yeah Sword Art Online incident takes place in 2022 and ALO ended in 2025, Accel World takes place in 2047. People are even speculating that Kuroyukihime is the daughter of Kirigaya and Asuna.

People that don't know those words should never know them.

 

Once they go in they will not be coming out...

Sorry, I skipped through it. But, I have a question!!--probably because I skipped through it, haha. =(

 

I LOVE this anime, I watched it when it first came out. I've never read a manga before...ever... where do I get this one? I seriously LOVED this show, probably in my top 5 animes.

 

Link me the book(s) on Amazon? XD

Sorry, I skipped through it. But, I have a question!!--probably because I skipped through it, haha. =(

 

I LOVE this anime, I watched it when it first came out. I've never read a manga before...ever... where do I get this one? I seriously LOVED this show, probably in my top 5 animes.

 

Link me the book(s) on Amazon? XD

There's actually several manga series for Sword Art Online for several different arcs and stuff, so its probably one of the more complicated manga to get into. However here is a list of the series, and links to them on amazon

  • Sword Art Online: Aincrad Volume 1 Volume 2 This takes place during the Aincrad arc obviously and ran from September 2010 to 2012. (covers volume 1 and 2 of the Light Novel series)
  • Sword Art Online 4-koma A 4-koma version of Sword Art Online (4-koma or Yonkoma are 4 cells per page comic-strip style manga) and has been running since September 2010. I can't really find it online but its probably the least relevant one anyway)
  • Sword Art Online: Fairy Dance Volume 1 (all I could find) this series covers Volume 3 and 4 of the light novel (second arc of the anime) Its been going since May 2012.
  • Sword Art Online: Progressive An adaptation of the light novel reboot which covers extra stuff such as Asuna before SAO. It started fairly recently so I doubt it is available in English yet.
  • Sword Art Online: Girls Ops A spin off featuring Lisbeth, Silica and Leafa.

 

The original was actually a light novel (sort of a cross between a manga and a novel) but that's not available in english (not to purchase anyway, but there are fan translations here) This is actually still on going and as I mentioned before there is a reboot of it called Sword Art Online Progressive.

 

As far as where you can purchase manga in general though, most comic stores sell manga, as well as many pop culture kind of shops. You may also be interested to know that Sword Art Online Box sets are now available although they are really expensive (about $100 each, and to get all the episodes you need 5 of them)

They have announced the SAO Season 2 for 2014

Yeah, I saw that recently, and I think there was an OVA released recently too.

This was a great season. It started to go down hill once SAO was over, I din't enjoy those fairies and the story shifted from game based to romance. Season two will be the death of this show.

 

Don't get me wrong though the first big plot is worth the watch.

This is one of the best mmorpg animes out that i have seen. .hack was horribly boring. Log Horizon is one I have yet to watch but it sounds promising. 

I've heard good things about Log Horizon but haven't had the chance to watch that either yet, I've considered watching .hack but there's other anime I'd prefer to watch first.

 

Also is your username a reference to Igneel from Fairy Tail? If so I like you. (Fairy Tail is perhaps my favourite anime ever, Natsu is my favourite character in anything, and Todd Haberkorn-Natsu's English voice actor, is one of my favourite VA's)

Yes it is from Fairy Tail, thats a great show. My favorite anime as of right now has to be Stiens Gate in first, Full Metal: Brotherhood in second, and Fairy Tail in third. I just finished Is this a zombie?, and started its second season Is this a zombie of the dead? Its pretty damn funny, and entertaining. Its not the best that's for sure, but its fun.

 

Fairy tails new dubs are pretty disappointing 

Recent Entries

Recent Comments

Latest Visitors

This site is not affiliated with ZeniMax Media Inc. or any of its subsidiaries.