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.)

Main Staff and Cast Revealed for Sword Art Online II

The official Sword Art Online website has announced the main staff and cast for the Sword Art Online II television anime series.

A-1 Pictures is producing the series, and Tomohiko Ito is directing. Shingo Adachi is adapting the character designs for animation.

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka is reprising his role as Kirito from the Sword Art Online anime series, and Miyuki Sawashiro is reprising her role as Shinon from the Sword Art Online: Infinity Moment PSP video game.

Sword Art Online II Anime Series Coming in 2014

It was announced during the Sword Art Online: Extra Edition special that a new Sword Art Online anime series, called Sword Art Online II, will be coming out in 2014. This announcement was also made on the franchise’s official website, and the site gives the new article the subtitle of, “Phantom Bullet.”

I am embedding a video of the announcement below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view the video due to region blocking.