The Sword Art Online anime is based off the Japanese light novel series of the same name by Reki Kawahara. It is animated by the A-1 pictures which is the studio also responsible for Shin Sekai Yori.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Science-Fiction, Drama, Romance
The anime is about a Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game titled Sword Art Online. In the year 2022, during the game’s release, the day when the players of the game log in for the first time, later discover that they are unable to log out. They are informed by the game’s creator that if they die in the game, they die in reality too and the only way to escape is to beat the final boss. ‘Kirito’ is the main protagonist of this series and is also one of the players trapped inside the death game.
Sword Art Online had a rather successful release,with people even at one point calling it the ‘best anime ever’. Luckily, that time has long past and well, the anime now has a serve backlash from all it’s positive hype generated and is now one of the most overrated animes talked about today.
However, is it deserving of all it’s success?
Sword Art Online has a strong first episode, with the focus on the psychological aspect of the players trapped within the game. The entire episode reeks of devastation, mental break down, etc. All of that fun stuff that would make the anime interesting. However, from the second episode onwards, the anime takes a fall in quality in my opinion. It just becomes quite silly, placing dramatic emphasis and ‘cool’ but ultimately surface level ideas in front of in-depth character development and struggle.
Still it was an enjoyable watch, the production values are off the roof (Although I couldn’t help but wish it was used in Shin Sekai Yori instead…)with fantastic animation and distinct character design, accompanying with an epic sweeping score composed by Yuki Kajiura.
However after the first half of sword art online, the series just got even worst. The writing just got more and more silly and the Kirito transitions from being an semi- relatable lucky bastard who got the girl to a Gary-Stu. He gets all the girls and he gets them quicker than the speed of light.
Asuna (Female Heroine) too undergoes a transition, from being a strong and relatable female character to a damsel in distress.
There is just so much wrong with the second half of SAO. I don’t know where to start, but it still keeps the silly and fun aspect of the first half going, in fact it gets even sillier and more ridiculous.
In conclusion, Sword Art Online is a really fun anime to watch. It tries to be edgy and dark by including psychological aspects that just get tossed aside for silly ideas. I wouldn’t recommend watching the second half of SAO which starts after the main characters get out of the virtual game, but if you manage to get by the first half, chances are you already are enjoying the anime for the fun of it. So by all means, continue if that is the case. I know I did.
SAO is a silly, fun anime that fails at being dark. It still is fun to watch though. However, those who are looking for a dark and psychological anime to watch will not get it from SAO despite it’s promises in the first episode. For that, I recommend watching Shin Sekai Yori or Fate/Zero for a much more legit psychological experience.