Crunchyroll Adds English-Dubbed Episodes of Sword Art Online, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and Fate/zero

Crunchyroll has announced that the site has added English-dubbed episodes of Sword Art Online (Season 1), Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and Fate/zero to its catalog of streaming anime.

All of the English-dubbed episodes are available now to Crunchyroll members in the United States and Canada.

Source: Crunchyroll

Anime Spotlight: Sword Art Online II

Introduction

Sword Art Online II is an anime based on a light novel series written by Reki Kawahara and illustrated by abec. The anime is produced by A-1 Pictures, and is directed by Tomohiko Ito. The series aired on Japanese television from July 5-December 20, 2014.

As of this writing, Aniplex of America holds the North American license for Sword Art Online II.

About Sword Art Online II

Kirito has returned to the real world to resume a normal life with his friends, but he’s called upon to help out in a virtual reality game known as Gun Gale Online when a string of deaths begin occurring in connection with it. Kirito meets a player known as Sinon, and the two of them end up going up against “Death Gun,” the player behind the mysterious deaths. What the two of them discover is both shocking and terrifying.

Shino Asada, who goes by Sinon in Gun Gale Online, has issues to deal with, due to shooting and killing someone as a child when she and her mother had been at the post office at the time a criminal was holding it up for money. Since then, she suffers from PTSD and becomes violently ill whenever she sees a gun. Shino’s friend Kyoji Shinkawa was the one who convinced her to get involved with the game as a kind of immersion therapy.

After this storyline is resolved, Sword Art Online II sees Kirito and some of his friends learning about a legendary item being discovered in Alfheim Online, and they go on a quest to try to get it. But as they go on their quest, they discover there’s more at stake than just locating the item; there is the potential for the world of Alfheim Online to be destroyed.

The final story arc in the series sees Asuna’s mother trying to force her leave the school she’s attending with Kirito, study under a tutor, and apply to an oriented high school. Asuna, of course, wants nothing to do with this, but her mother doesn’t seem to want to listen. Meanwhile, Asuna hears about a mysterious player in Alfheim Online who is taking on challengers. Asuna takes on this player, who turns out to be a girl named Yuuki. Even though Asuna doesn’t defeat Yuuki, the other girl is so impressed by Asuna’s skills that she asks Asuna to join her guild, the Sleeping Knights. This guild wants to defeat the Next Floor Boss with just one party to etch their names on the Monument of Swordsmen before disbanding their guild. Asuna works with them, and with some help from Kirito, they are able to achieve their goal. But Asuna discovers there’s more to Yuuki and the other members of the guild than she realized.

My Impressions of Sword Art Online II

Admittedly, the second and third episodes of Sword Art Online II can feel a little on the slow side, since they focus on the new game and on new character Sion. However, these episodes are needed to establish both Gun Gale Online and Sion’s character. Without getting the backstory for Sion that early on, it would be harder for the audience to understand why she acts the way she does. But once you make it past Episode Three, the remainder of the arc is interesting to watch. Episodes 13 and 14 are very dramatic and full of tension, especially with the revelation of who “Death Gun” is and the aftermath of learning this individual’s identity. I have to admit that I nearly cried at the end of Episode 14.

There is an Episode 14.5 that is titled “Debriefing.” It’s a recap episode that shows events that happened over the course of the first 14 episodes, and it’s narrated by Sion. Unfortunately, the way the recap was done it became rather jumpy as it went along. And to be honest, I didn’t understand the point of this clip show episode, because the audience had just made it through the previous 14 episodes. In addition, this recap really had nothing to do with leading into the next story arc.

The next arc in Sword Art Online II was rather short, and it was more on the lighthearted side than the Gun Gale Online story had been. While the potential for the destruction of an entire virtual world is a very serious thing, the story was told in such a way that the tone of these episodes didn’t have the same kind of tension that the first arc had. After watching Sword Art Online II, I’m glad this more lighthearted story was here to bridge the other two story arcs.

The final arc of Sword Art Online II is very deceptive at first. Even though Asuna is having her issues with her mother and starting to question her abilities as a gamer, what we see happening in-game seems to be rather normal. But after Asuna becomes involved with the Sleeping Knights and learns the truth about Yuuki and the other members, this storyline quickly becomes very serious and very emotional. I learned the hard way that when you watch Sword Art Online II, you don’t want to see the last three episodes all in one sitting due to how serious and how emotional they are. Seeing all three of them in one night ended up being an emotionally draining experience and I was crying at the end of Episode 24. These three episodes are good episodes, but it’s just a little much to watch all of them in one shot.

I have to give some serious props to the author of the light novels that served as the source material for Sword Art Online II, due to the inclusion of such elements as PTSD and having a character battling a serious and terminal disease. Characters’ emotional and physical states, along with the idea of immersion therapy with the virtual games, were definitely a running theme in this series.

Conclusion

Sword Art Online II is a very worthy addition to the Sword Art Online anime. Even though the series can be a little slow to get going right at first, I believe that it has the potential to appeal to viewers who watched and enjoyed the first Sword Art Online series.

Anime Spotlight: Sword Art Online

Introduction

Sword Art Online is an anime series based on a light novel written by Reki Kawahara and illustrated by abec. The anime is produced by A-1 Pictures, and is directed by Tomohiko Ito. The series aired on Japanese television from July 7-December 22, 2012.

As of this writing, Aniplex of America holds the North American license for Sword Art Online.

About Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online is set in the year 2022, and Virtual Reality Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing has become commonplace. Sword Art Online, a highly anticipated game, is released on November 6, 2022. The game is used with NerveGear, a Virtual Reality helmet that stimulates a user’s five senses through their brain in order for them to experience and control their in-game characters with their mind.

At the beginning of the series, we meet Kirito. He was one of the 1,000 beta testers for the game, so he’s rather familiar with it.  Kirito meets up with Klein, a friendly newcomer to the game, and teaches Klein the basics of the game. A friendship forms between the two of them.

Suddenly, a bell rings, and all of the players are forced into a teleportation back to the main login area of the game. The game’s creator suddenly manifests himself, although his face is hidden. He has disabled the game’s logout button and presents a challenge to the players: in order to log out, players must reach the 100th floor and defeat the final boss. If their avatars die in the game, then the players die in real life. Also, if people in the real world try to remove the VR helmet, then the player will die in the real world.

As Kirito works his way through the game, he meets a girl named Asuna. Over time, the two of them fall in love. At one point, when they take a break from trying to clear the game, they meet a mysterious young girl named Yui. The three of them form a kind of family, and it’s discovered that Yui is an AI mental health and counseling program. By the end of the first half of Sword Art Online, Kirito and Asuna are able to work together to defeat the final boss and free the remaining players from the world of the game.

When Kirito returns to the real world, he learns that 300 Sword Art Online players, including Asuna, have not awakened yet. While visiting Asuna in the hospital, he meets Nobuyuki Sugo, a young man who works for Asuna’s father’s company who has an obsession with Asuna. The second half of the series also introduces Suguha Kirigaya, Kirito’s “younger sister” who is actually his cousin and has feelings for him.

When one of Kirito’s Sword Art Online friends shows him a picture of someone who looks like Asuna in a new game called Alfheim Online, Kirito decides to enter this MMORPG to try to determine if it’s really Asuna and to save her if it is.

My Impressions of Sword Art Online

I first tried watching Sword Art Online when it was simulcasting on Crunchyroll back in 2012, but I gave up after watching the first episode. At the time, I just couldn’t use my willing suspension of disbelief to accept how these characters were trapped in the virtual game world, and I questioned quite a bit of it. So I gave up on it after one episode.

Move ahead almost three years, and my family dumped cable and signed up for Netflix. My two older children had heard of Sword Art Online through their peers and decided they wanted to try it for themselves when they saw it was available on Netflix. My kids really liked the show, and they kept telling me that I needed to watch it and give it a chance. After they finished watching the series, I decided to give it a chance and try going into it using my willing suspension of disbelief when re-watching the first episode. Also, in the intervening years, I had watched both seasons of Log Horizon, so I had more familiarity with this kind of concept than I did when I tried watching Sword Art Online back in 2012.

After I made it past the first episode, I could see that Sword Art Online was actually a very well-written series. I really came to like both Kirito and Asuna, and I found myself looking forward to each episode to see what would happen to them and how they would grow as characters as the series progressed. Kirito definitely changed the most, and he went from being the cocky kid who wanted to play solo at the beginning to the guy who comes to care about others in the game and does anything he can to protect his friends. By the end of the 25 episodes, Kirito has become rather humbled. Of course, finding love with Asuna really helped him to move in that direction.

In the second half of Sword Art Online, the character of Nobuyuki Sugo was depicted as such a slimeball that it was extremely easy to hate him. I have to admit that I wasn’t that sure about Suguha for a while, but she turns out to be important for Kirito’s character development.

Conclusion

In the end, I’m very glad that I gave Sword Art Online a second chance. If I’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s that I need to not judge anime series simply from one or two episodes. By not giving this series a chance three years ago, I missed out on a fantastic series. I still need to watch Sword Art Online II, but after seeing how Sword Art Online ends, I definitely want to see the next season to find out what happens to Kirito, Asuna, and the others

New Anime Releases: December 23, 2014

Here are the new anime releases for December 23, 2014. If you see any errors or omissions in this list, please feel free to leave a comment and let me know.

Horus, Prince of the Sun [DVD]
Kill la Kill Volume 3 [DVD]
Kill la Kill Volume 3 [Blu-ray]
Kill la Kill Volume 3 [DVD/Blu-ray Limited Edition with CD]
Mazinger Z Volume 2 [DVD]
Sword Art Online -Extra Edition- [DVD]
Sword Art Online -Extra Edition- [Blu-ray]

Information for Sword Art Online II Anime

It was announced during the Dengeki Game Festival 2014 that the Sword Art Online II television anime series will be premiering in Japan in July 2014. Sword Art Online II will adapt volumes 5 and 6 of the original novel series.

The series is being produced by A-1 Pictures, is being directed by Tomohiko Ito, and Shingo Adachi is adapting the character designs for animation.

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka will reprise his role as Kirito from the Sword Art Online television anime series. Miyuki Sawashiro will reprise her role as Sinon from the Sword Art Online: Infinity Moment PSP video game.

Several Toonami Shows Rank #1 in Demographics

The series premiere of Space Dandy on Toonami on January 4, 2014 ranked at #1 at the 11:30 p.m. timeslot among men 18-24 and 18-34.

The following series in Adult Swim’s Toonami block ranked at #1 in their respective timeslots among men 18-24:

  • Bleach (12:00 a.m.)
  • Naruto Shippuden (12:30 a.m.)
  • One Piece (1:00 a.m.)
  • Soul Eater (1:30 a.m.)
  • Sword Art Online (2:00 a.m.)