Update 5/17/15

I APOLOGIZE!!! This was going to go up earlier today but I got distracted watching anime crack on YouTube! It is life apparently, now enjoy.

Guys! I never thought I would see you on a Sunday again for a long while! I've got a long one today. If you follow me on Instagram or Tumblr you probably saw my posts about today's update. Let's get this bad boy started already!

Anime Review: Sword Art Online

Tell me. Would you like to live in a world where the video games become like real life? Would you like to live in a world where if you die in the game you die in real life? That is the world that was created when Japan brought to life the light novel and video game series Sword Art Online. In 2012 we were presented with season 1 of Sword Art Online which covers the Aincrad and Alfheim Online arcs of the series. In 2013 we were given the movie length Sword Art Online Extra Edition which covers the time spent recovering from the problems caused in season 1. Then in 2014 we were brought the second (and so far final) season of the series that covers three different story arcs. Essentially we got to see five different arcs in the span of two years. The series is still airing on Toonami in English, but the entire series as of right now is complete in Japan. If you question about the fact that the series seems similar to another 2012 anime series Accel World, well that is because the series was written by the same light novel artist.
Today, I am going to cover the series that has captivated me from beginning to end. I warn you that there are going to be spoilers in this review, so if you don’t want to read spoilers, I will see you next week for a new update. This review is the ONLY thing I will be posting today. So sit back and enjoy.
Season One of SAO aired in Japan from July 7th, 2012 until December 22nd, 2012. The season one run was a total of 25 episodes. The English dub of the series aired on Toonami starting July 27th, 2013 (Guys that was my 21st birthday!).  On December 31st, 2013 a special run of a Sword Art Online Extra Edition movie was run on two streaming sites Crunchyroll and Daisuki. They hosted the special and allowed their members to view the special then they released it for their free viewers. The special runs 101 minutes long and I will discuss what it covers in a bit. Then in spring of 2014 a big promo was spread across the Internet, a continuation of a series that the fans were impatiently waiting for since the end of the first season. The Extra Edition paved the way for the creation of the second season. The movie gave fans hope that they were finally going to see a second season and on July 5th, 2014 season two of SAO premiered with a 24 episode run ending on December 20th, 2014.
Now before I start talking in depth about the different arcs of the series, I would like to discuss the top notch casting in both Japanese and English. I have watched the premiere of both dubs of the series. I watched the original SAO Japanese run and the original SAO English run. I think both versions were cast perfectly.
Kazuto “KIRITO” Kirigaya
Yoshitsugu Matsuoka
Bryce Papenbrook
Asuna “ASUNA” Yuuki
Haruka Tomatsu
Chermai Leigh
Kanae Ito
Stephanie Sheh
Ryotaro “KLEIN” Tsuboi
Hiroaki Hirata
Kirk Thornton
Andrew “EGIL” Gilbert Mills
Hiroki Yasumoto
Patrick Seitz
Akihiko “HEATHCLIFF” Kayaba
Toru Okawa (Heathcliff)
Koichi Yamadera (Akihiko)
Kevin M. Connolly (Heathcliff)
Marc Diraison (Akihiko)
Keiko “SILICA” Ayano
Rina Hidaka
Christine Marie Cabanos
Rika “LISBETH” Shinozaki
Ayahi Takagaki
Sarah Williams
Saori Hayami
Xanthe Huynh
Koji Yusa
Doug Erholtz
Suguha “LEAFA” Kirigaya
Ayana Taketatsu
Cassandra Morris
Nobuyuki “OBERON the Fairy King” Sugo
Takehito Koyasu
Todd Haberkorn
Sayuri Yahagi
Lauren Landa
Chiwa Saito
Cristina Vee
Shin’ichi “RECON” Nagata
Ayumu Murase
Marianne Miller
Kenta Miyake
Joshua Tomar
Yuki “YUKI” Konno
Aoi Yuki
Seijiro “CHRYSHEIGHT” Kikuoka
Toshiyuki Morkiawa
Matthew Mercer
Shino “SINON” Asada
Miyuki Sawashiro
Michelle Ruff
Death “STERBEN” Gun
Soichiro Hoshi
Ben Diskin
Shoichi “RED-EYED XAXA” Shinkawa
Ryota Osaka
Kyoji “SPIEGEL” Shinkawa
Natsuki Hanae
Johnny Yong Bosch
There are some big name voice actors among the cast. You have Bryce Papenbrook, Chermai Leigh, Johnny Yong Bosch, Todd Haberkorn, Matthew Mercer, and Michelle Ruff. If you aren’t sure who any of those people are let me tell you. Bryce is known for his role as Eren Yeager in Attack on Titan, Chermai is known for her role as Lucy Heartfilia in Fairy Tail, Johnny is known for his role as Ichigo Kurosaki in Bleach, Todd is known for his role as Natsu Dragneel in Fairy Tail, Matthew is known for his role as Levi Ackerman in Attack on Titan, and Michelle is known for her role as Rukia Kuchiki in Bleach. (Side note: I did all of that from memory...booyah!)
Now back to the actual discussion of the arcs.
Aincrad/Sword Art Online – Episodes 1-14
The entire world was excited about this new break-through in gaming technology from Akihiko Kayaba. What no one knew though, was the secret plan Kayaba had set up for the thousands of gamers who would set foot in the world of Aincrad. With no log out button, the only way to leave the game safely was to win the game. Beating 100 floors doesn’t seem so bad…until you are told that if your HP gauge drops to zero and you die in the game, you die in real life.
I was really impressed with the world that was created by SAO. I originally watched the stream on Hulu (way before I watched Crunchyroll) and I was able to keep up on the amazing world.
The cool thing about Sword Art Online is that they took hold of the gaming community which is slowly getting bigger and made it into something everyone could love. Now, not a lot of people agree that this series is considered a romance because Asuna and Kirito fall in love in the course of a few episodes, but if you follow the dates of the episodes you’ll find that they fall in love over the course of two years. I will get into that a bit more later when I discuss their relationship.
The arc ends after it is revealed that Akihiko Kayaba was the final boss and was beaten on level 75 by Kirito after two and a half years in the game. The surprise of Akihiko hiding in the game was good but it was kind of obvious because Kirito seemed to worship him and it seemed like something Kirito would do. I mean as he says why would you spend so much time building a game like this if you can‘t enjoy it too.  The biggest hint that almost everyone caught was during the duel between Kirito and Heathcliff. The point when he used assistance from the game to dodge Kirito and cheat to win the duel.
Alfheim Online – Episodes 15-25 & Extra Edition
After the end of the Aincrad arc, it is revealed that several hundred players from SAO are still trapped in the Nerve Gear and are being held in a game known as Alfheim Online. Kirito with the assistance of his friend Egil, dives back into the world of gaming to save Asuna who is one of the hundreds still stuck in the nightmare.
The world of the Fairies is similar and different compared to the world of Swords. The players all use swords but they also have magic and wings. A vast difference is that even if you die in the game, you will respawn in ALO. Alfheim Online isn’t a death game like SAO was.
The new characters you meet in this world are colorful and give the same feel as the characters you met in the first arc. I wasn’t as big of a fan of this arc as I was of SAO because there were far more creep factors in this arc.
Leafa, the girl he meets in ALO, turns out to be his cousin who is madly in love with him. There is just something so creepy about that. They were raised as siblings and she is in love with him. Then you have Oberon who is a creepy fuck who tries to rape Asuna on many occasions and because he doesn’t get his way tries to murder Kirito outside of the hospital.
Other than that it was a good conclusion to the first season.
The Extra Edition is a continuation of the last episode and shows how everyone is getting on in their new school and their new lives. We even get to see a cute mission in the new ALO world.
Phantom Bullet/Gun Gale Online – Episodes 1-14
Time has been relatively smooth for Kirito and his friends. That is until he is approached by his “friend” from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Kikuoka Seijiro. Mysterious deaths have been happening in a game called Gun Gale Online and the killer calls himself “Death Gun”. Kirito converts his account so he can play in GGO and unmask Death Gun.
This is by far my favorite arc. It is kind of a nerdy reason why I like it so much. Kirito’s weapon of choice in GGO is a light saber. A purple fucking light saber. So cool. My inner nerd was giddy. Oh who am I kidding, I screamed out loud “HE HAS A LIGHT SABER!” and ran to show Chelsie.
Plus the opening for this arc is my favorite in the whole series. I’ll touch more on that below.
Yes unfortunately it adds another girl who falls in love with Kirito, but he still remains wholly devoted to Asuna.
Caliber – Episodes 15-17
This arc just shows off the new world of ALO plus it reunites Kirito with Excalibur which was used to win against Oberon in the old ALO. Plus…Thor is in it. Freaking Thor! Oh-my-gerd. Sorry…geeking out again.
Mother’s Rosario – Episodes 18-24
This arc is the saddest arc in the whole series. Asuna is fighting with her mom and is starting to feel distant from her friends and Kirito when she meets a young girl named Yuki who has a secret. Yuki was looking for a strong player who she could gift her original skill set to and holding duels. Kirito went up against her but wasn’t able to assist her in her plans not because he lost but because he knew her secret. Asuna was the next strongest player to fight her. Asuna was concerned that Kirito lost because he didn’t want to beat a girl, but Yuki cleared up the situation.
The saddest part of this arc is how real it could actually be. Though the final episode of the series offers a bit of relief for the heart when Kirito in his own way proposed to Asuna and she accepted in her own way.
Episode List
Season One
The World of Swords
The Red-Nosed Reindeer
The Black Swordsman
A Crime Within the Walls
Illusionary Avenger
Warmth of the Heart
The Sword Dance of White and Black
The Blue-Eyed Demon
Crimson Killing Intent
The Girl of Morning Dew
Yui’s Heart
Edge of Hell’s Abyss
The End of the World
Land of the Fairies
Captive Queen
To The World Tree
The Lugru Corridor
General of the Blazing Flame
The Truth of Alfheim
Grand Quest
Gilded Hero
The World Seed
Season Two

World of Guns
Cold-Hearted Sniper
Memories of Fresh Blood
GGO (Gun Gale Online)
Guns and Swords
Duel in the Wastelands
Crimson Memories
Bullet of Bullets
Death Gun
Pursuer of Death
The Meaning of Strength
Bullet of a Phantom
Phantom Bullet
A Small Step
The Queen of the Lake
King of the Giants
The Forest House
Absolute Sword
Sleeping Knights
Swordsman’s Memorial
Journey’s End
Beginning of a Dream
Mother’s Rosario
Now like with all reviews that I do, there is one aspect that I make sure I add. The part that makes me fall in love with a show. The music. Sword Art Online is no stranger to amazing music. The composer of the SAO score is Yuki Kajiura. She is an amazing composer. Work that you may be familiar with of hers is Pandora Hearts score, Tsubasa Chronicle score, Fate/Zero score, Puella Magi Madoka Magica score, and her work with FictionJunction and Kalafina (which are essentially the same group). However it isn’t Kajiura’s music that really pulls one in. It is the opening and ending credits that encapsulate the series.
“crossing field” by LiSA (S1, OP1)
“Yume Sekai” by Haruka Tomatsu (S1, ED1)
“Innocence” by Eir Aoi (S1, OP2)
“Overfly” by Luna Haruna (S1, ED2)
“Niji no Oto” by Eir Aoi (Extra Edition theme)
“Ignite” by Eir Aoi (S2, OP1)
“Startear” by Luna Haruna (S2, ED1)
“Courage” by Haruka Tomatsu (S2, OP2)
“No More Time Machine” by LiSA (S2, ED2)
“Shirushi” by LiSA (S2, ED3)
All of these songs are available on iTunes for purchase if you are interested.
So I think I have rambled on long enough. What are your thoughts on Sword Art Online? Love it? Hate it? I give the series a 9/10 in hopes that we can get a third season out of the current light novel. Until then though, I will hold on to the brilliance that is Sword Art Online.
Want to see more reviews like this? Let me know which shows I should review. Upcoming reviews: Attack on Titan Season 1 and Tokyo Ravens.
That's all for this week! I will see you all next week with a new update. Until then.
Ja ne!
xx Kat


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