I don’t review a lot of anime on this, with the exception of Psycho-Pass and the Hayao Miyazaki films. Ever since I went to MomoCon 2015, and I saw all of attendees dress as anime characters that I had never heard of, I suddenly realize that I have a lot to catch up on.
I decided to watch Sword Art Online, and this is like the Twilight of anime. It’s not that it has a lot of feminine appeal, but it has a lot of mainstream appeal as well. It is pretty popular, but I think even the most popular anime will never have true mainstream appeal. If it does, it will be a different world.
I decided to try out Sword Art Online because my daughter says that she is into anime. She is familiar with the Hayao Miyazaki films and other things that aren’t truly anime like Avatar: The Last Airbender and Teen Titans. There are some anime that I won’t let my daughter watch at her age, and I will have to say that Sword Art Online has some pretty questionable material, but never strays into adult territory.
It’s premise is the greatest and the most far-fetched. Sword Art Online takes place in the future, where MMO games and virtual reality have mixed very well. So much so that users can enter into a world and interact with people in a completely fantasy setting like the game in this show, also called Sword Art Online (SOA). Most of the action follows Kazuto “Kirito” Kirigaya, who was a beta tester for the game, and on the day the game goes live, thousands of people start playing this Warcraft-like game.
Suddenly, all of the players are teleported into this one area, and are given an announcement by Akihiko Kayaba, the creator of SOA. Kayaba tells them that the players cannot log out of the game, and they must play all the levels to achieve their freedom. Immediately, I loved this premise, even though many variations of this premise have been done before. You can argue that The Matrix is a variation of this.
What really makes SOA (the game and this TV show) interesting is how it is an epic fantasy and yet the characters act like they are in a game. For example, they have health bars and will swipe their fingers to access an item that they carry.
There are a lot of interesting conflicts on this show, and it is clearly inspired by MMO games. I’m going to spoil this show and say that it his a mid-season resolution that feels odd because most shows would have waited until the end of the season to do it. That’s all I will say about that, and there is another season to this show that Netflix doesn’t have yet.
I will have to say that this show has a weird subplot where Kirito’s adopted sister falls in love with him. I’m told that the Japanese are okay with this idea. There is also a scene where a villain holds a girl hostage, and rips off her clothes. No nudity is shown, but this is just plain dark. I’ve kind of noticed that many anime villains have this creepy sense of emotional detachment, and I’m starting to easily detect the villains in these anime shows.
On the whole, I would recommend Sword Art Online to anyone that likes anime or MMO.