So recently I finished watching Sword Art Online, one of the trendy anime of last year. At the start, everyone was all over the premise, which was about people trapped in an MMO and forced to survive and beat the game. Everyone loves plots that have the threat of death looming overhead, such as Death Note and the Hunger Games. Everyone loves MMOs. And so SAO became one of the most popular, most expensive merchandise generators of all time. And now it has ended. But I doubt people loved it as much towards the end.
As for me, I felt the anime was lacking from the start. The idea was interesting but not very well-executed. They could’ve expanded on the psychological repercussions of being trapped in a virtual world, worrying about life in the real world, but most of the characters explored in the show seem to not care very much about not seeing their family again. They were just like “oh yeah let’s go fight fight fight” most of the time.
Also, most prominent at the start was the discontinuous time skips. Every episode I was wondering how much time had passed, because last episode they would be in Floor 6 and the next in Floor 26, to cite a random example. And characters had to make remarks such as “2 years have passed in SAO” for viewers to understand why Kirito just got more and more powerful. While I admit that perhaps one would require time skips to show that an extended length of time has passed, one should not have time skips every episode in such an irregular manner.
Another thing most people have hated is how Kirito is way too perfect. Apparently all women fall in love with him — including his own sister who is not blood related, he gets secretly unlocked powers that nobody else possesses (and we do not know how precisely he got them; all the show says is that he suddenly discovered he did) and even in reality he is a top scorer in school and some kendo expert.
Not to mention the ways he has immortally beaten the Big Bad both times. Against Kayaba Akihiko, some weird form of willpower overcame him which allowed him to fight back even after death. Against Sugou, the power of Kayaba Akihiko’s echoed mind (what?!) helped him to win. Oh, and he just loves to show off even when the stakes are so high. Against Sugou, he voluntarily reduced pain tolerance levels, and against Kayaba Akihiko he made him switch on his AI indestructibility system, if I didn’t remember wrongly.
And I’m sure nobody liked the immense fanservice that went on in the show, which increasingly happened in Alfheim Online. You get panty shots, jiggling boobs, tentacle rape and outright rape that thankfully was not successfully and fully carried out. And amidst all these sex scenes, Kirito is the stellar example of the guy who has no libido at all. He is a perfect gentleman.
And perfect gentlemen get all the luck, such as Yui, who magically appeared before them and helped Kirito in a broken way in Alfheim. She was pretty much the know-all imp in the game.
The only redeeming quality about the show is the songs. Even though all songs were sung by women, they were all pretty good, especially the openings which had LiSA’s Crossing Field and Aoi Eir’s Innocence. But this is definitely not a recommendation for the hardcore anime fans. Perhaps I might recommend it to people who like mainstream fare, though, since it does indeed have some pretty good art.