Message from future Tune. This review is not that great as I wrote it when I was even more shit at writing then I currently am. I was also way too forgiving. Don’t watch this show. Please. It sucks. Enjoy the not too good review.
So, let’s have a talk about SAO.
I have quite a few feelings on SAO, so I’m gonna rip off my good friend dunnstheorys (follow him, he’s actually not that awful) and divide this review up into sections of things, and score them on their own. Unlike him, I’m going to give a final score. I will try and give as few spoilers as I can.
First up, Story
To tell up you the truth, I really can’t be bothered to recount the story of SAO, so I’m afraid That you will have to google it if you want to find that out. So, I presume you now know the premise of the show, and now you’ll understand the opinions I’m spewing without being confused. Not to put to fine a point on it, the story of SAO is a massive mess. The story suffers from not being able to keep its tone in check. One minute, everything will be DARK AND SERIOUS, and the next, there’ll be some “wacky” (in massive airquotes) hijinks, involving accidental breast groping ( P.S none of the “comedy” in this show is even remotely funny). Now, other shows have been able to pull this off (e.g Trigun ), but those shows are able to seamlessly transition between the two, or be more heavily focused on one part of those two. Also, there’s like a shit ton of filler in the first arc, including one where the protagonist goes fishing, because, fishing. And there’s the fucking romance….. Look I could go on and on, but all you really need to know is that SAO’s story is the vast majority of the time, kinda shit.
Oh god. Not the characters. Anything but the fucking characters…
Our main protagonist, Kirito, is basically the ultimate Nerdy teenage boy power fantasy. He’s a loner, yet kicks heaps of ass. He’s not incredibly attractive, yet all the female characters adore him. He’s also barely a character. He doesn’t really have any unique traits, other then the fact that he always wins (he’s basically Jesus) and seems to be kind of emotionless.
Next, our female lead, Asuna. Asuna starts off with the potential to be a badass female protagonist who kicks just as much ass as the leading man, if not more, and doesn’t take any crap from anyone. Too bad she gets relegated to Kirito’s undying lover pretty much the second time she shows up, and then moved to damsel in distress in the second arc.
Also Leafa, Asuna’s replacement in the second arc. She’s kinda the same, but with added incest! (Cringe cringe cringe)
Plus a bunch of supporting characters who barely deserve a mention, as long as you remember that all the females love Kirito (cringe to infinity)
SAO’s animation is gorgeous. There isn’t much else I can say about it. The fight scenes are fluid and awesome to look at, the scenery is stunning and the characters are well made. It obvious that this show had great production values. The only thing that irks me is the amount of fanservice in this show, because there is a lot. Other wise, excellent.
SAO’s soundtrack is another of this shows big pluses, with bueatiful quiet pieces for the slower moments of the show and MASSIVE BOMBASTIC PIECES FOR ALL THE ACTION. Also, both openings for the show are fucking awesome.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the shows voice acting. Whether you’re watching this dubbed or subbed, brace yourself for a load of mediocre to awful voice acting. Especially watch out if you can’t handle subtitles, because the dub is only slightly better then a bunch of irritating prebubescent children yelling at you while sawing your leg off.
Music: Excellent achievement
Voice acting: Partial achievement
Despite all this, SAO is a lot of fun to watch when it’s doing what it does well. Action scenes are excellent to look at and the the melodrama can be incredibly amusing. I would say this probably best for either binge watching when you’re bored or with a bunch of friends and need some thing to laugh at. While it’s not always good for the right reasons, SAO is generally pretty fun to watch, other then some of the painfully boring filler.
Sword Art Online isn’t the greatest show in the whole world. At points, it can actually be awful. This isn’t a show that will have you invested in it’s great characters or compelling story line, as much as it you wants to be, but it is pretty fun to watch. If you’re bored on a weekend and want something to power through, I would recommend this. If your looking for something with an engaging narrative and complex characters you’d be better off with something like Death Note or Code Geass. Otherwise, not as good as it could have been, but still not as bad.
Overall: Satisfactory Achievement
Sword Art Online is available on DVD in four overly expensive volumes. It is also available for streaming on Netflix.
P.S. this only covers my thoughts on the first season. SAO II is a another beast entirely that I may or may not get around to covering some other time. We’ll have to wait and see in regards to that one.