Sword Art Online: Part 1 – Anime Review

Joey Hancock December 13, 2013 2
  • Story
  • Characters
  • Production Values

Sword Art Online: Part 1

Released On: 16th December 2013

Published By: Manga Entertainment

Produced By: A-1 Pictures

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Synopsis and Opening Comments

“In the year 2022, next-generation game Sword Art Online (SAO) is the world’s first true VRMMORPG. A virtual reality helmet known as Nerve Gear has been developed, making Full Dives into a virtual dimension possible. SAO has generated worldwide buzz, and on its official launch day, one player, Kirito, immerses himself in its virtual world. But Akihiko Kayaba, the developer of SAO, proclaims the following to all players. This game is inescapable unless all levels are cleared. And in this world, ‘Game Over’ is equivalent to death in the real world.” – Manga Entertainment UK

Sword Art Online is yet another anime about a group of people being locked into an online world, a totally original concept right guys? OK maybe not, but while the list of anime that put people into a game related comatose is fairly large: Hack, Btooom and more recently Log Horizon. Sword Art Online certainly stands out among the crowd. This may be done a lot, but why does this style work? And why is Sword Art Online one of the best of its kind?

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 Story

Sword Art Online is one of the most highly rated series in recent years, but why is that? Probably because of its brilliant story. Fantasy is one of the best genres of recent times, especially ones where the characters are trapped in a video game.

The story begins with the protagonist “Kirito” (In-game name) picking up the latest craze in gaming, Sword Art Online. Kirito was a beta tester for this game and he loved every second of it and couldn’t wait to get into the game. Once there he was quickly back into his usual routine of being a solo-player, that is until he partied up with a newcomer to the game. Quickly they began to forge a friendship, but Kirito never really had a teammate before. The time went quickly, after a good few hours it was time to go for a break, but what’s that? No logout button?

This is where the story gets serious, it seems no one in Aincrad can leave the game. The developer of the Nerve-Gear has made it impossible for the players to leave the game, and if you die in-game, you get a real life “game over”. Its time to adapt to the game and try to beat the way it plays.

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So with Guilds now forming left, right and center it seems that Kirito will still continue his journey in the clearing squad; a group of highly skilled players with the intention to clear the game. Well that is one half of Kiritos story in these 7 episodes; the other, well, that is Kirito being a guy always willing to help those in need.

Shortly into the series he joins a small guild, with the intention to just blend in and try to start a peaceful life. He hides his level for some unknown reason, maybe he thought he wouldn’t be accepted, but either way he made the wrong decision, one that caused the death of all his guildmates.

Since this is only a 7 episode box set there really isn’t too much to talk about. Anyhow, this series has a brilliant story and they do so well to introduce the beginning of it with this boxset. It does feel like it lets me down in some aspects, mainly because my favourite part of these types of shows, are the parts where the characters forget the fact that they are fighting for their lives; but when they are all focusing on a way to get out, it seems like it’s a bit overkill.

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 Characters

The characters of the show are really not the best in my opinion, but hey! They aren’t the worst.

Kirito is our lead character and his vast knowledge of the game comes off as wisdom, he doesn’t exploit the fact that he is a pro player; instead he uses it for other peoples aid. His subtle approach to life inside the game is what makes him a good character; it is clear that he knows how to enjoy the best of this terrible situation. When it came to the first boss room on Level 1, nobody knew that he was a beta tester, and when it came out that he was he became known as the “Beater”, someone to be feared.

Asuna is the lead female of the series and is also Kirito’s future love interest. To me, she is one of the most annoying characters in the show. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a Tsundere, but her attitude just seems off all the time. She has her moments, and as most of the characters, those come when she forgets that she is trapped in the game. Eventually becoming the Vice-Commander of the Knights of the Blood guild, she is well known among the clearing squad as one of the best, but Kirito just treats her as any other player; not showing her the respect that others do; and that is because Kirito is the best of the best.

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Production Values

This is a stunning anime; A-1 Pictures really outdid themselves with this one. Everything from character design to the world design is just beautiful. You can really see that this is their style, from Fairy Tail to Anohana; the style takes similar strides from there.

Originally adapted from a Light Novel series of the same name written by Reki Kawaharathe series has since skyrocketed from the launch of the anime to being one of the most popular series of recent times. With 13 volumes currently under its belt I can see there being a future for the continuation of the anime. Yen Press are also scheduled to be releasing the Light Novels overseas in 2014.

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Closing Comments

Overall for 7 episodes I was impressed; although the outrageous price tag may put some people off.

This was easily one of my favourite series of 2012 and it competes with some of the best. It had many ups and downs throughout but overall it was a brilliant start to the series.

If you do not wish to pay the extortionate price for the series, you can watch it on Crunchyroll for free, or subscribe for high quality.

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2 Comments »

  1. Kieran January 1, 2014 at 11:57 pm - Reply

    This is a great review! The price is a little higher than I’d expect to pay, but considering SAO is my favourite series at the moment, I think it’s well worth it. Can’t wait for the release of Part 2!

    • Joey Hancock January 3, 2014 at 10:26 pm - Reply

      Im the same, I love the series but the quality clearly drops after Episode 13, not terribly but it is noticeable.

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