I watched Sword Art Online. (Update June 6, 2014)

I’ve been busy the past few weeks studying for finals and such, so I haven’t been keen on writing for much of this month. I was, however, watching Sword Art Online. This came about because of a request I made on a message board community, the criteria being that they recommend me something I, in completely certainty, would not like but can be smart about it. I never watched SAO before, and with SAO II coming up soon I figured it would be a good time to catch up and join everyone else in the experience once it airs.

I was planning to make an episodic post series about it on this blog, and I will follow through with that once I start writing about the second half, but you can read up on my experiences with the first half over at the aforementioned message board. If Mr. Important cannot fathom reading through other people’s responses, here’s a link to just my posts in the topic. Happy reading.

Suffice to say, I tried to be smart about it for a while until about the episode 9 mark. That’s when my sanity starts to fall apart and I completely forego any effort of taking this anime seriously. Deep apologies for those of you who enjoyed SAO, and I hope you understand my viewpoint if you choose to read my thoughts on the matter.

I’m not actually apologizing.

SAO is pretty cancerous once you’re stuck in maxiumum nitpick mode.

Addendum

  1. Mushishi gonna save anime.
  2. JoJo gonna save anime.
  3. Ping Pong gonna save anime.
  4. I’ll also be watching Selector Infected Wixoss, the two Bones shows, the other noitaminA show, and Isshuukan Friends. At least, until they lose my interest. Or maybe they won’t! Iunno.

UPDATE JUNE 6, 2014

I have now finished all of Sword Art Online and while my opinions has not changed much about the series I still have my opinions on the show up and ready at the same links.

Copied from the last episode’s write-up:

Okay. This show.

Episode 25 practically exists in a different dimension from the rest of the story. it’s the ending to an anime that I apparently missed out on. There’s conclusions and developments happening left and right that, while cute in concept, were not fully realized in the actual story. You can’t force those kinds of things in a conclusion without calling into question literally everything that happened before it. Kirito’s internal struggle with his RL identity versus his in-game identity are given their proper depth in episodes 1 and 25, but there are too many missing links in between. Asuna’s retrograde development during the later half of SAO and the entirety of ALO apparently didn’t happen once episode 25 showed up. Suguha was mercilessly molested by the camera too much for me to appreciate anything of worth to her character. Everyone else in Kirito’s posse just served their purpose as side characters who heap praise upon praise on our hero as if he deserved everything he got.

Long story short, he did not deserve a lot of the positive things that happened to him. Despite the story revolving around the guy, his overall character is empty. There’s a lack of justified development in Kirito’s character. Oh, there’s much to be speculated when it comes to figuring out why Kirito does Kirito things, but the narrative purpose for each action in the story has always fallen back to supporting the Gary Stu: made perpetually powerful, made perpetually righteous, and does things with as little effort taken as possible. The way the story visibly bends over backwards to support this image contributes to Kirito’s static nature as a protagonist, and fuels the blatant teenage wish fulfillment fantasy that the show really is. Yet the real problem is that wish fulfillment fantasies can be written well: SAO chooses the wrong way to go about it by assuming that its own fantasy can be a legitimate, real-life occurrence without anyone calling out the absurdities. And don’t even get me started on the villains of this show. I’ve talked about them enough already.

This anime had some nice visuals, a nicer soundtrack, and attempted to address a few important themes regarding virtual reality and the social demographic of MMO gamers, but the story often felt unpolished in its pacing, focus, and execution. In fact, said pacing, focus, and execution was so frenetic and juvenile that I was having trouble legitimately caring about anything that happened on screen as early as episode 2. The anime was set in an MMO but failed to be ABOUT an MMO, in favor of being a cartoon Twilight for boys.

I personally give this anime a 2 out of 10, if only because the first episode showed promise. Perhaps if I were still a wee 13-year-old boy when it aired, I would have enjoyed this anime a lot more than I’d be comfortable with.

 

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2 comments

  1. […] am carrying this post series over from my original SAO write-ups on another website. If I end up working a fair bit of my anime-related writing time on another place, it would make […]

  2. […] The problems with SAO and with Kirito’s role as a character areĀ better expressed better by other bloggers, but suffice it to say that the story’s fixation on Kirito’s awesomeness made […]

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