I have a feeling this is going to be long.... cause i have A LOT to say....
it's also going to have some spoilers.... if you don't want the show to be spoiled for you then stop reading. The TL;dr essentially will be the first half is good but you may not like the second half as much, give it a shot if you want.... it's all viewable for free on Cruchyroll.com.
ok.... again..... spoilers from here on.... this is your last warning.
So.... when I first heard the title i immediately thought. "oh great.... another .hack// type of show.... fantastic.... considering how much i dislike .hack//"
then i watched it and was pleasantly surprised.
There was real suspense! the main hook of the show is that 10 000 players of a full dive MMO can't log out.... not only that but if they die in the game they die in real life.
This actually made the game a little nerve wracking.... and characters whom you end up liking even after a short time can and are offed... and it's heart breaking... in the SAO arc i cried 2 or 3 times.... one of those times i was at work waiting for my ride to get there.... i didn't know 'that' was going to happen and i just burst into tears.
luckily no one saw me but still... i learned no more SAO at work even if i'm off the clock....
So if they can't log out and they risk death by playign why doesn't everyone just stay in the begginer area?
Because Aincrad, the world in SAO is essentially a 100 floor dungeon... if a player is able to beat the boss and clear the game everyone would be freed.
Our main character is Kirito, a kid in his teens who was a beta tester for the game and is excited to get back. However the fact that he was so good at the game and a beta tester has made him an outcast cause people think he's cheating.
Thats fine since most of the time he's a solo player... well until he meets a girl names Asuna.... he does the first level boss fight with her and then meets back up with her randomly through the game. Eventually they become friends and not much later they become more then that.
Of course it just so happens that these two are pretty much the best players of the game to boot.... the show eventually becomes about these two playing the game together and dealing with guild issues and eventually (and unexpectidly) fighting the final boss.
Stuff happens (i really don't wanna spoil but i promise it's pretty good) and Kirito manages to beat the game.
But at what cost?
So on that note the SAO arc ends... i'll talk about the Alfenhiem (ALO) arc in a minute...
The good: Really suspenceful, well animated, great music, interesting characters and real drama about forgetting the real world and how will things be when they get back.... with Kirito and Asuna be able to find each other and possibly still be in love? just a great character study over all...
The not so good: some episodes have really weak plotlines and it drags the rest of the series down. Some time kirito is a bit too powerful which tends to take that element of suspense away.
but otherwise the SAO arc is really good....
the ALO arc on the other hand.......
So Kirito has returned to the real world as Kazuto.... he had to go to rehab and whatnot considering he essentially spent 2 years in a coma thanks to the game....
whats worse is not everyone woke up after the game was cleared.... about 300 people still remain comatose.... including Asuna.
How i expected it to go: Considering an avatar that looked like Asuna could be seen in a new game Alfenhiem online I imagined that Kirito, still being traumatized from spending two years inside a game where his life was always on the line, wouldn't be able to go in ad save her himself.... but using all his programming skills that we see in the first arc to save her from outside the game.... also he knows some of the SAO players in real life so possibly using their skills to help save her as well.... and possibly exposing some plot thast keeping those 300 people within the game.
How it actually goes: Kirito goes inside the game without any sign of trauma or worry, creates an avatar with the same name as his SAO avatar (yet no one ever questions him about it despite EVERYONE knowing a player named KIRITO beat the last game) finds out his stats and some other things carried over to ALO and bumps into another character.
who happens to be his IRL sister.... who has the hots for him... but it's supposed to be okay cause he's adopted.
no.... i don't care.... they still are brother and sister... adopted or not....
anyways so they go to the spot where asuna's avatar was spotted and thanks to a bit of help Kirito manages to get to the one causing all the problems and he teaches them a lesson.
anywasy so after all that the show gets good again as Kirito goes to see Asuna who has hopefully woken up and not died during all this.
more stuff happens that i wont spoil
and then we get to see the IRL people from SAO which is pretty cool and fun...
we also find out something that happens that i'm sorry.... no.... no no no no no no no....
i have a real hard time believing that anyone would let any type of full dive thing happen ever again especially after the company was ratted out for what they were doing to the comatose people.
The good: . . . . . . .
. . .
getting to see kirito with funky hair and wings was an interesting character design?
and other then the BS about an item thats given to kirito at the end the last episode is really good....
The not so good:
Fan service has been ramped up drastically and the show seems oddly long... SAO never dragged but the ALO arc coudl have easily been 3-4 episodes.... tops....
Kirito seems to be lacking any sense of trauma from SAO and any sense of remorse for what he does to another character near the end.... that is slightly redeemed thanks to the final episode but still... he's a bit to psychotic for me to like him as a character.... and again..... he spent 2 years in a death game... he would no go back so easily.
"oh but his love for asuna was strong"
yeah okay but again.... 2 years in a death game.... have you ever done something that you do all the time.... then hurt yourself pretty badly while doing it.... then have the fear that you may screw up again and get hurt even worse? thats what i wanted to see... i wanted to see that dilemma of him wanting to save asuna but his body being too afraid to go back in... then eventually going back in OR doing what i said before and beat the game from the outside... it just felt like "well i gotta go save my girl~ lets just pop that nerve gear back on and put myself back in a comatose state... hopefully this time it lets me log off."
Also the whole kirito and his sister thing.... ew... i'm sorry but i
HATE that particular 'romantic' storyline.... it doesn't matter that you
aren't blood related... you grew up as siblings and it's really
creepy... maybe i'm the only one who's so put off by this but just....
no... and Sugu (the sister) is an awful character who is simply put
there to give a character Large breasts and to do uncomfortable shots
from above... it's just creepy
The Horrible and down right unforgivable:
Asuna, who was a really strong female character, is pretty much turned into something to be used as an object and she nearly gets raped almost every episode she's in.... though we know for the first half he wont do anythign to her.... we can't be sure about her safety at the end.
To boot her face has been softened by the animators... her facial features are rounded and she is portrayed as this weak little girl.
Yes she tries to fight back but i honestly think given the type of character she was in SAO she would have more fight left in her.
"oh but she didn't have weapons or stats"
again i get that but i don't care, i think she would fight with every fiber of her being against that guy even if there was no chance of winning.
HOWEVER.... all that being said... i did like the show.... i just didn't like the ALO arc (because of rape scares and sister love ineterest).... i would say watch all of the SAO arc... then the first episode or two of the ALO arc and then the last two episodes of the show and thats pretty much everything you need to see. the rest is kinda just filler...you find out more about the magic system and some rules of the game but it's not nessicary....
But the show is ok.... not really good.... but ok. the first half is WAY better then the second half because the second half doesn't really seem to have a point the way the first half did.
and the more i think about it... the less i like it.
the music is really really good, crossing fields is so much fun.
hey this wasn't as long as i was expecting in the end.... yay