Tuesday, August 11, 2015

My issues with Sword Art Online

Well I've been watching Sword Art Online's third arc lately and I think its about time that I expand upon my issues of why I don't like SAO as a whole. I'll be talking about each arc individually. It is one of the more popular anime out there in the same vein as Attack on Titan and well, you already know how I feel about that. This one of the prime examples of an over-hyped anime.
This picture alone represents the drastic change between the first and second arcs.
Sword Art Online arc:
This had potential but I don't feel it did much with its concepts other than the life or death struggle but even then, it doesn't go beyond them trying to get out before they get killed. One thing I remember finding very odd is that they were all in a hurry to leave once they found out they were stuck. They were in a position that a lot of people would love to be in minus the whole "you die in the game, you die for real" thing. This unfortunately means that there are a lot of generic characters who get introduced just to die. Asuna was awesome in this half but sadly, well you'll see when I mention the Alfhiem arc. This arc doesn't go very far into what it actually means to be alive which would've been interesting to see given their real bodies were comatose. It may seem odd that I was expecting something like that given that I've ragged on Casshern Sins for doing something similar, the only difference being that all of Casshern Sins' characters are robots and it comes off as being pretentious but that is a story for another day.
Yeah he makes this face a lot during this arc.
For being an MMO it didn't really separate the various classes outside of weaponry or even name the classes. They make no attempt to even think about what they were going to do on the off-chance that the final boss was unbeatable. For the most part we never even find out why the villain trapped them in the game in the first place. Admittedly, I did sort of enjoy seeing Kirito and Asuna interact and we got a touching moment or two between them. Overall, this arc was just ok.

Alfhiem Online arc:
This is where the show just hits the fan for me and its where the bulk of my problems with this anime come from. It completely destroys any good that came from the Sword Art arc. The art style goes through a drastic change and becomes more cutesy in general but its a high fantasy MMO so it is somewhat understandable. This arc basically amounts to Kirito constantly saying "I've gotta save my waifu" and focusing on only that. Seriously, even when the villain reveals to Kirito that Asuna isn't the only one trapped it still sort of feels like he just wants to save Asuna and if he saves the others in the process then so be it. While Asuna was awesome in the first arc, she unfortunately gets becomes nothing more than a damsel in distress during this arc. I'm not even gonna acknowledge the infamous tentacle scene when Asuna tried to escape as it was in very bad taste and only there for the sake of fan-service. It was completely unnecessary and idiotic. It even angered the show's fans from what I've heard. It is by far the worst moment in the anime so far. Seriously, why is it even in there? Granted that might be because it was in the light novels.
This was just....ugh...NO!!...I can't even talk about it!
From what I was able to piece together from the plot, the villain's plan was ridiculous. He basically wanted to marry Asuna because her family was rich and he could use that money to finance his experiments. That is kind of weird, creepy, and cliche all at the same time. To top it all off, I can't even take the villain seriously in this arc. Its made pretty obvious that he is little more than a joke. I keep finding myself asking why this arc exists.

Gun Gale Online arc:
Something about this arc just feels off to me for some reason but I can't quite put my finger on it. I think its mostly because even though Kirito is still the main protagonist, he hasn't exactly adapted to the Gun Gale mechanics/play-style. He is in an MMO about guns and gun-play but he is still using a sword as his default weapon and playing it like he has the other two MMOs. I know his specialty is sword fighting but it completely clashes with the game genre that this season is using as a base. Another weird thing is that this arc seems to actually be questioning what reality actually is. Kirito goes on in the first episode about what constitutes something being real. If its something that seems real in a virtual world, who is to say that it isn't real. While that is a nice idea, I find it odd that SAO of all things is asking this question as it doesn't feel like it has earned the right to ask them.
The villain is named Death Gun and well honestly thats one of most ridiculous names I've ever heard. There have also been hints that he is related to the Laughing Coffin guild from SAO and that he might have been one of the people Kirito "killed". They're just now playing up Kirito's trauma from being trapped in SAO. Why wasn't this brought up before? It makes the Alfheim arc seem completely unnecessary since they could have addressed it then instead of having that entire arc focus around saving Asuna. The overall reveal of how Death Gun was killing people was underwhelming and the twist itself was extremely easy to see coming. Seriously injecting them with drugs to simulate a heart attack was all they could come up with? The Ragnarock part of this arc is nothing more than filler which is weird because its in the light novels so its canon filler.
As a whole the anime itself is pretending to be something it isn't. Its a romance/drama anime that wants to be shounen/action anime that wants you to think it is an MMO anime. I call it a romance/drama anime because that is what the entire second and third arcs smell like to me. It was an ok anime during the Sword Art arc but during Alfhiem it just takes a nose dive and doesn't really recover for me. Something about the Gun Gale arc just feels off entirely to the point where it doesn't even feel like the same anime. It also doesn't feel consistent between any of those three arcs. If you like this anime, more power to you. If you haven't seen it, I would only recommend this anime as nothing more than popcorn material.

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