Sword Art Online or SAO is an entry level series for all those that arent really into watching anime. For seasoned viewers though its an absolute train wreck. While SAO does function better than most anime on some levels its weak story and pathetic characters all but wreck the series for the veterans. On the other hand the new kids on the block are too enthralled by the pretty colors to look past the facade that passes for a story. Now Im not saying SAO is bad it has plenty of strong points even the haters will falter against but that doesnt make it good now does it? I mean more along the lines of the cons overweight the pros in the case of SAO. Im pretty sure you have heard this term overused to kingdom come but SAO had potential potential it wasted. Note This review is spoiler free it might appear that Im treading into spoiler territory but I wont. You just gotta trust me on this okay? Artwork and Animation 8/10 The artwork is by far the strongest field of SAO but lets proceed in order here. Character Models After all what is an anime without a pretty face? The character model hits spoton with the flagship of Asuna and to a lesser degree Kirito. Both of whom are created quite well and both attract great amounts of fans from either gender. Still the level of detail in facial features is quite lacking. Environment The environment is lush and green with sprawling cities and major architectural structures which greatly add to the entire town atmosphere. With its great amount of detail it is evident that the entire environment looks great. Animation Broadly speaking the animation is also quite good this is especially the case during the fights in which the animation probably plays the biggest part in the immersion. While that may be the case I noticed that some daytoday activities seemed to be....cluttery and unsynced one of many examples would be ep 10 around the 11:42 mark. Now while that may be an uncommon occurrence it is still there and it is helluva annoying when it happens since in one deft move it completely destroys the immersion and please dont say that animation hadnt progressed that far in end2012 cause it had take a look at KSnH tell me if it happens there. Still considering how great it is overall it almost feels like my complaint is nitpicking. With all that said I still wont go as far as to call SAO eyecandy. There are plenty of anime that were released earlier or almost with SAO that look much better than it in terms of Character Models and Animation KSnH Durarara PsychoPass etc. Still it is undeniable that its environment is among the best of its kind. Sound and Music 7/10 Some people count the music as one of the stronger points of SAO while I dont disagree I dont agree either. I agree that it is one the stronger things about SAO. I disagree with the implication that it is great for the sole reason that it isnt. Voice acting I have no qualms about the voice acting and Im fine either way with voice acting since I dont honestly speak the language. Still I can feel the emotions in the voice across a totally not totally but still unknown language and that part is spoton. Despite that I dont exactly feel connected to the characters in any way but that is probably the stupid plots problem. Environment Now by environment here I mean noises in the background like town chatter or the sound of insects even the clash of swords. And all of this felt....artificial. And faint mostly artificial though. Now it is obvious that the cast didnt get real swords and clash them in from of a mic but still having such hollow sounding noises just doesnt allow one to immerse themselves in their surroundings. Then there is the fault of faintness. The background noises are so low below the general talk volume that it almost feels neglected. Background Music The background music is mostly just violin and guitar which sounds perfect for more...emotional scenes but for the action scenes there isnt any strong or intense BGM to really bring the feel of the battle. Yeah there is some light drumming and something that sounds like a faint and repetitive dong but it just doesnt quite do its job. If you would better have an example then try watching ep10 or ep14 of SAO skip to the fight scene watch it and then watch ANYTHING from SnK. You will understand the difference something like background music can make. OP and ED The OP01 Crossing Field by Lisa wasnt quite good enough. It was good but not good enough. Yeah it had a great AMV but other than that it gets boring really fast and even then it probably wasnt worth adding to your playlist anyways. The other memorable entry in the music section is ED02 Overfly by Haruna Luna which is just great. Its definitely worth listening to even though it has a somewhat weak AMV. The others OP02 and ED01 were both fairly average nothing that I will waste my time with though. CpDyF4pkbAs Sorry couldnt find the AMV but I linked the official video. Story 10/30 The story section marks the beginning of the downfall of SAO. Yeah we were at the supposedly good sections before. Premise The premise relies around a Virtual Reality Massive Multiplayer Online RolePlaying Game VRMMORPG called well SAO which is supposed to be a real craze and after the release everyone buys it in a hurry. Sadly after just a short while they realize that they cant log out and return to their normal lives they are forever trapped in the game because the creator conveniently backstabbed them into staying in the game forever and if they die they die forever. Because game developers totally destroy their own lives and deconstruct their hard work by creating a game which allows them to annoy totally random greasy neckbeards for reasons unknown and never revealed Still I cant deny that the premise has potential. Plenty of potential in the MMO genre considering that most of the anime viewerbase plays one online game or the other and it is always fun to watch something you can directly relate to. Sadly SAO took all that built peoples hopes until episode 2 and then cut those hopes to little bits. Execution The execution is just that an execution. An execution of all the potential and the hopes that were put into SAO by viewers everywhere. It is almost as if SAO as a series is a facade that does exactly what it portrays happens A creator destroys the hopes of nolifers everywhere. Despite its rather solid premise SAOs power lasted only until ep2 after which the next few episodes were just filler crap about how Kirito can steamroll over everything ever and all by himself As any MMO player ever will tell you going solo is the best way of getting killed no matter what your skill level is. It is an inherent fault in humans as a whole that they will make mistakes. One wrong step one slow dodge and you are dead. Forever. This is especially true at higher levels with more and more intelligent and powerful enemies that just cant be taken down solo. Despite being an advanced gamer Kirito doesnt understand such basic things and goes solo against great odds and wins where entire teams of his level fail. Because why the fuck not he is kirito. Honestly that is the explanation for all of the events in the series. Why the fuck not he is Kirito Nothing else is needed he is stronger than dozens of people of his level and he can break the game using sheer rage as his weapon. Because why the fuck not he is kirito. This is literally the only thing that happens until Episode 9. After that the story somewhat continues but having already broken its momentum it falls straight on its face because lets face it Nothing happened the past few episodes. Episode 10 seems like it will finally be able to recreate maybe even rekindle SAOs flame and it does to some point but then comes episode 11 which destroys even that and goes back to its filler bullshit. and stays there until it thinks oh well maybe I should end this arc. Then it does some stuff and the arc ends. Just like that. The next arc is totally spoiler territory so not gonna discuss it. If you want a concise description though Its shit. Even worse than the first arc. Now lets do a quick review of its genres and how well they were pulled it off. Action Mostly okayish its lacking through the entire series and the biggest reason for that besides the BGM support and the filler crap is that it ends too quickly. And there is honestly nothing to lose we all know Kirito is gonna lolwtfpwn everything hardly makes me give a crap or even get excited. Adventure Dont know what classifies as adventure in your books but pretty sure its supposed to be a challenge. Game Well its in a game...so yeah. Romance Terrible terrible romance. Mostly because the time jump forcing two and a half years worth of stuff in 5 episodes really messed everything up and doesnt allow for a sensible start or end to the genre. The romance is therefore extremely rushed. It resolves but who gives a crap if it isnt gonna build up? Shounen Big boobed pretty gamer girls and wishfulfillment OP MC who every girl digs Yeah sounds like shounen to me. Characters 4/30 The characters are by far the weakest link in the chain of SAO. The characters are bland unbelievable undeveloped and if they arent Kirito or Asuna probably pathetically weak. Kazuto Kirigaya also Kirito He acts as the MC and also as the Gary Stu. As I already pointed out he rolls over everything and anything. He is probably the height of a wish fulfilling character. He is strong everyone depends on him women love him he is cool as shit doesnt use a shield uses a single sword goes solo and doesnt afraid of anything and he gets all the girls. Like ALL of them despite actually being a shutin betafag. Once again because why the fuck not? He is kirito. Asuna Yuuki As someone who loves a strong female lead and even reads crappy shoujo if it means having one I loved Asuna from the get go she seemed strong independent and pretty cool okay I sound like a feminist now I promise Im not but then her character changed one of the few character to have a character development btw and then she became a 1860s housewife. Like really. Her entire point was to look cute and be a total burden to everyone around her by being absolutely useless. After the first two episodes she always needs kirito to save her. Suguha Kirigaya Cousin and adoptive sister of kirito and pointless other than as a imouto type character who looks cute and shit while kirito kills everything. She also has a incest subplot or some shit that never really resolves or whatever I told you ALL the girls love him right? Other than that is the support crew which dont achieve jack shit and just sit around or die none of these have any developments at all and I would write more but shits been giving me a headache. Enjoyment 10/20 While SAO is enjoyable if you close your eyes and make yourself oblivious on purpose or otherwise to its faults it really doesnt have anything of substance. It does its job as a starter anime quite well by roping in people who dont care about anime but that is really all SAO is it holds nothing for a viewer that appreciates a story or even wants something interesting. Because even though SAO tries very hard to mask its faults and succeeds against most of the people that watch it upon hindsight you cant help but glare at all the holes and say Did I honestly enjoy this piece of crap? That only applies to the first arc by the way the second arc is so shit it isnt even masked anymore. It holds nothing for the educated viewer but it still holds the world for the oblivious one. Final Verdict 39/100 Its shit.