THIS REVIEW IS 100 BIASED and there are spoilers so be warned I updated the final score to reflect a more subjective view of the anime without personal bias Well now that ive gotten that out of the way here is MY PERSONAL review of the anime Sword Art Online. It probably is unfitting of what most people say Ive heard every negative thing said about SAO. However there is a reason why Sword Art Online is my favorite anime to this day. Ill start with my personal reasons on why I gave it a score of 10. To put it simply: The rating of 10 comes from personal enjoyment. Was this anime perfect? No. Was this anime flawed in a lot of ways? Yes. Do I care? NOPE At the time I decided to watch SAO I had previously been unexposed to the action genre. Being a young ish 16 yr old at the time female I typically enjoyed romance and shoujo anime. So SAO was something quite new and exciting for me to pick up. It was nothing like I had ever seen before so of course at first I did not notice the flaws in storyline and progression that everyone seems to point out at first anyway. To me I simply adored the mix of action and romance considering I still loved watching romance in anime. I will go into more details about this when I discuss characters but my point is that the combination of action something new mixed with romance something I loved in a cool stuckinagame setting was REALLY EXCITING to me. I soon fell in love with almost all the characters talking about you Silica... and became a huge fan of the series from then on. I have rewatched the whole anime both seasons 4 times so as that shows I definitely know my way around the series. Now with that aside I will rate some aspects of the anime like music characters story with some bias obviously as I stated above Animation This one is a 10/10 stars for me. SAO had and has a pretty large production budget. When you compare it to anime like Log Horizon you can tell the difference not to bash on Log Horizon. Many talented animators were brought in to work on this anime and it is especially apparent with its brilliant action scenes lively colors and beautiful landscapes and scenery. I could go on and on but I believe I have made my point. Soundtrack Again a 10/10 for me. The main battle theme Swordland is very memorable and to this day gives me chills. It is no surprise that SAO has excellent music as very talented Yuki Kajiura provided works for OST. Most people probably know shes done music for other well received anime such as Madoka Magica Fate/Zero and so on. Every theme is fitting and I still listen to the OST to this day. All the openings and endings are catchy and I personally enjoy them. Overall a stunning soundtrack for a stunning anime Characters Oooh boy one of the places where SAO gets bashed a ton. Here we have the main protagonist: completely lifeless pointlessly overpowered boring personality. Then we have the badass female lead who turns into a cookiecutter tsundre. Im here to explain why I believe that those characters are more than what people negatively say about them. Personally the characters section gets a solid 7/10. While there are some good characters there are definitely places where this anime fails to deliver in its characters. To explain lets start with the good: none other than Kirito let me remind anyone reading again that this is my personal opinion Kirito is my favorite character in the series. At the start his personality comes across as a cold introvert. He has trouble making everyday small talk and this is portrayed very well. As he is a loner he enjoys playing solo and does not like forming parties he has trouble finding a partner for the first boss raid. However we can see that as the course of the anime goes on certain things happen to him to shape his personality. He goes through heartbreak does things he regrets and finds it within himself to beat the death game for a very compelling and heartwarming reason. In my opinion Kirito is the most interesting character in the whole series. I do not find him boring and despite all things I actually find him somewhat relatable. People criticize saying it is hard to empathize with someone who is too perfect but I disagree. During all his hardships I truly felt his pain I could feel real emotion from him as he fought battles and escaped neardeath situations. So maybe he is a tad overpowered for his own good hacking the game console really? However is that REALLY bad? I dont find it to be. Sure it might have been cool to see some progression from when he started off as being a noob but hey he was a former beta tester after all and seems to have a decent knowledge of games in general. That alone can explain why Kirito is a much better player than the majority of the 10000 who are trapped. There are unfortunately some major time skips that happen which fail to show any progression from his character more on this in the story section and after a two year time skip he is leaps and bounds better. Unfortunately we do not get to see this development. It just happens. However I dont feel like this limits his character. You can still see his character develop in other ways as he finds his romantic interest and begins to see a future that involves her. His personality is shaped by the interactions he has with the people around him and the experiences he goes through. From his guilt of killing the moonlit black cats to facing Akihiko Kayaba at the end to nearly dying by a laughing coffin member and so on. You will start to see how his mindset goes initially from it being all about himself and how he was going to survive... to turning the focus on saving Asuna. A shift from selfish to selfless. This continues to show through in the second half of the first season all the way to the second. He is always determined to keep his party members alive. I loved his determination how he never gave up. His sheer passion for what he was doing was incredible to watch. I could really see how much he loved Asuna and how much he was willing to do to clear the game. Another negative aspect that people say about Kirito is that he gets a special skill: Dual Blades. How could this be? Why is he the only one? Well Kayaba the creator of SAO stated very clearly that this skill was awarded to the player with the fastest reflexes or someone that he thought would be the one to beat the game. That may not reflect how games are played in real life and to that I say SAO is NOT a typical game This is a fantasy game in a fantasy world and of course it does not need to reflect how things are done in our real world period. Before this gets too long I want to state that I do see where his character has flaws but to me the good outweighs the bad. It didnt stop me from absolutely loving him as a character. I know not many will agree with me on this but this is what I truly believe. Asuna is another great character my second favorite. We can see some fantastic character development in the first season as she goes from seriousness to learning how to love the dire situation she was in. Although she was trapped in the world of SAO she didnt hide herself in the town of beginnings but rather ventured out to clear the game. Even though she had never played a game in her life she decided that living in fear wasnt going to be an option. In my opinion that takes courage. In the Mothers Rosario arc we also see lots more much needed back story of her home life and we can see how the effects of Sword Art Online make things troubling at home. Overall I can see how people say that Asuna is a cookie cutter character however I think she has more complexity than that. For critics she is too tsundre but again is that a bad thing? Toradoras Taiga... hello? It may be typical and not unique however I think Asuna goes beyond her lackluster tsundre trope. For one she is essential to the story not only as Kiritos love but for the sole fact that Kirito and Asuna are a great team. We can see how her experiences in the death game evolve her personality into becoming someone who would risk her own life to save the one she loves. I personally enjoyed her spunk and and feminine yet badass personality. I loved seeing such a strong female lead in this anime. At times she may be slightly shadowed by her counterpart Kirito but that does not make her any less of a character more so in the second part of the first season. She and Kirito make a fantastic couple. I was delighted while watching the romance between them ensue. They might have been young but it was pleasant and heartwarming to see. Finally I have a very quick note on Yui. Personally I found her as an addition to the family to be extremely cute which further bonded Kirito and Asunas relationship. Yui could be seen as a cheat device but I think the complexity of Yui being an artificial intelligence yet seemingly having real life emotions adds to the futuristic setting we are in 2024. Yui was created to assist players with mental health problems but she was attracted attracted to Kirito and Asuna because they were among the few players who still managed to laugh and be happy despite dire situation they were in. She managed to defy the game master and help Kirito and Asuna something that goes beyond what a normal AI should be able to do. I found that connection between them to be adorable especially the fact that she was their adoptive daughter Now to try to wrap things up Im going to quickly say a few things about the rest of the characters in general. Unfortunately I believe that some characters were useless in SAO. Silica and Liz are the two that stand out in this category. To me they did not add much to the story of value and seemed to be more filler than anything. Other characters like Klien and Agil were great however I wish they had more screen time. Sinon and Yuuki were well fleshed out characters as well however this review will become way too long if I start talking about that. Suguha or Leafa is another character that had complexity however I personally was not a fan of her incest love for her brother. Some of the villains are too stereotypically villainy at least that is what most people tend to say but it did the job and made me hate them. Overall there were some issues with characters but for the sole reason that the two main characters were great I still can find enjoyment with the rest. Story This one gets a 10/10 for me. It has a fantastic plot. I mean come on trapped in a VIRTUAL REALITY video game? That with the added if you die in the game you die in real life factor makes this incredibly fascinating to watch. It was a concept that I had never thought of before. That is one of the reasons why I loved it so much the first time I watched it. Moving on to the second half the whole story of saving Asuna is loathed by many but I found that half to be very moving and driven as you can see Kiritos determination very apparently in this arc as well especially when he makes attempts to get to the top of the world tree. I did not mind that Asuna was a damsel in distress in this case. I loved seeing Kiritos love for Asuna continue to shine through his actions. The downside? It took the compelling death game aspect away which lowered the stakes in a way. It wasnt a huge problem for me though. The Gun Gale Online arc attempted to bring back the death game aspect with death gun who looks and sounds way too much like darth vader by the way It was enjoyable but there was a lack of Asuna which wasnt my favorite especially since Sinon was a LITTLE too comfortable with Kirito in that cave.... The 3 episode arc in between GGO and Mothers Rosario is nothing special. Basically a side quest for a sword. Thats it. The Mothers Rosario arc featured Asuna and some new characters. Easily the second most emotional arc there is in SAO. I really loved the focus on Asuna and how much emotion and character development there was. Sorry about the shallow reviews and summaries here but Ive been at this for two hours and Im starting to feel like this review is too long Plot Execution The worst part of SAO in my opinion however this does NOT influence how I feel overall about it. I give it a 6/10. Like I mentioned earlier there are too many time skips too many pointless filler episodes and I sometimes wish that the anime could be redone but using the progressive novels instead of the original light novels. I also wish there was more focus on the Aincrad arc. Stopping mid season felt so unfinished although it was an interesting plot twist. I definitely was not expecting that as even critics agree that the Aincrad arc was easily the best part of SAO. So with those critical flaws the ideas and story were great just poorly executed in my opinion if I will be honest. However this does not change how I feel about SAO as a whole. As I stated above my 10 score is based on my enjoyment I have had for the anime so the negative aspects dont bother me Im going to go ahead and end the review here. I could easily continue writing this and polish my thoughts even more. However that is for another time. Kudos to you if you read this far. I bet youre a hardcore SAO fan like me haha or heck you might be a hater trying to comprehend how I could even think the way I do. Anyhow I hope this shows you why I personally loved Sword Art Online so much. Even though I know lots hate it there are also those like me who love it. Heres hoping this essay explained that thoroughly. Until next time
80 /100
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