Sword Art Online – abbreviated as SAO – is infamous throughout the anime community for being trash. The protagonist is an OP harem master and the female characters are nothing but sacks of jiggling flesh for viewers to gape at and fap to. Despite this being the general consensus among anime veterans, some agree that despite its flaws, it’s a darn entertaining show.
I enjoyed SAO and would go as far as to say it’s one of my favorite anime. I’m not ignorant to the fact that it has (many) flaws, but I like it for what it is.
This show is not meant to be taken seriously and there are reasons for its popularity, one reason being accessibility. The show’s plot and characters are straightforward, making it easy to understand and enjoy.
Many people I know that don’t watch anime have seen SAO and liked it, which is partly why it was as big as it was. It appealed to people who have never watched an anime in their lives.
I think the show’s premise also played a great part in getting attention, because how many people can resist watching a show about getting trapped in a video game? Not many!
And so, after two anime seasons and several games, the movie Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale is the latest addition to this successful franchise.
The story of Ordinal Scale is decent. After the SAO fiasco and the confiscation of NerveGear, a new device called the ‘Augma’ has taken its place as the new hot and upcoming technology. It’s a safer option compared to the NerveGear, it doesn’t have enough power to fry the wearer’s brain, and its multitude of uses made sure it spiked popularity.
While playing the popular AR (Artificial reality) game Ordinal Scale, Kirito and his hare– I mean, friends, discover that SAO survivors are losing their memories of their time spent in the death game after playing Ordinal Scale.
The mix of mystery and action was quite well done in this movie. While I would have loved to see more action, what I got from the movie was entertaining enough. It had a strong start, but the ending was resolved in a slightly campy manner. Still, it was in line with much of what I expected, but I’m glad it gave its viewers a chance to piece together the mystery on hand rather than just giving it to us straight.
The movie also has some genuinely touching moments, it’s impressive considering how much content they managed to fit into a two hour timeframe.
Kirito received some interesting development. They managed to grab my interest with how they spun Kirito’s preference for the virtual world, as compared to the real one. Even after going through the traumatizing experiences of Sword Art Online, he still likes VRMMORPGS and prefers them to AR games, which is the opposite of how most survivors feel.
I got the feeling that what he didn’t like about the AR technology was that it breached the thin line of ‘virtual’ and ‘reality’. It makes for some good brain food and left me contemplating on the advantages of both AR and VR. Unfortunately, the movie kind of cops out at the end and Kirito solves his problems with the age old technique of ‘Hit it until it works’ but the characterization was good while it lasted.
Another thing I was appreciative of was how the movie explored ‘Survivor’s guilt,’ by showing little tidbits of events that happened in SAO but were not showed in the anime. It was a good move and made me connect with the characters. It’s too bad they never got to finish exploring it since the movie ends in a rather clichéd manner.
Like I said, though the movie had a strong start, its starts to fall into its more shonen tendencies by the end. I wish they’d taken more time to explore how people were emotionally affected by the loss of their memories, and what kind of effects they would experience in the long term.
But, well…I guess we can’t have it all.
Asuna also showed some decent growth in the movie. I’ve always liked her (except in season 2, but let’s not talk about that) for her emotional strength, which is what made her coupling with Kirito interesting. While he’s stronger in a physical sense, she is stronger in matters of the heart. She is sure of herself, and is less likely to suffer internal dilemmas. The movie does something great and takes this strength away from her, so to speak. As such, the stakes rise and give the movie a sense of urgency as both she and Kirito fight to get it back.
Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale is a must watch for any fan of SAO. Fans of Kirito and Asuna are bound to enjoy it. For those interested in characters like Silica, Lisbeth or Sinon, you’ll be out of luck since they only have minimal screen time as most of it is split between Asuna and Kirito. However, the upside is that we do get to see what they’ve been up to after SAO. It’s a decent movie that won’t take too much of your time.