Sword Art Online II
I’m going to be upfront so you all know what type of review this is going to be; I think giving this series even one and a half stars is a reach. Choose if you want to continue to read now, you’ve been warned.
Yes, I am one of the people who hated the incredibly popular “Sword Art Online”. At the insistence of many friends (all who cooed that I would absolutely love SAO because it was so “original” or because it had “strong female characters” or other reasons that I now just shake my head at when mentioned) I started the first season. Let’s just say I hate watched it to the very end and couldn’t believe that it was considered ground breaking by so many people in the anime community.
When I realized that there was going to be a second season, I threw my hands up in confusion. “WHY! WHY AND HOW WILL THEY CONTINUE THIS!” I implored to the powers that be, but I received no answer and any information I was able to come across just made me realize it was going to be a whole other “SAO” but in a different game. Spoilers are low right now since only 4 episodes are out now (and I only watched 2) but be warned- a basic recap of the first two episodes is coming up.
This season, we start off in a new Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG) called Gun Gale Online- where someone has figured out a way to kill people in real life through the game. My first problem is the fact that these VRMMORPGs are still so widespread after the nonsense that happened in the first season, where they were trapped in two different worlds and over 4,000 people were killed in two years. TWO YEARS people were trapped in the game and dying and people think it’s ok to use the “Nerve Gear” to play different games after there were TWO incidents of people being trapped in games. If someone found and developed a way to use an international gaming system that people are directly interacting with to kill them in real life I don’t think people would still use them but I don’t know this is in an anime, nothing makes sense.
So after a quick intro to the new world we’re in, a shooter game which is different from our last two lands, Dr. Doom comes up out of nowhere and gets mad, shooting at a tv which is broadcasting a live interview with the top player of the game. The top player suddenly starts choking and basically freaking out before being disconnected and the others with him just think there was a problem with internet connectivity while the other players in the same bar as Dr. Doom start freaking out cause “Holy crap I think that dude just killed him.” And I concede, his name isn’t Dr. Doom, but rather “Death Gun” which is also the name of his gun so…. yeah.
After that, the first episode is just a lot of set up for what’s going to come. The man who first approached Kirito after he awoke from Sword Art Online approaches him again with information on a professional player who died out of nowhere and surprise surprise, was the man that Death Gun shot at. There have been more deaths though, and because Kirito has the most experience in situations like this because come on, he’s already saved the world twice. Kirito agrees to check things out, although he doesn’t want to believe that someone has once again figured out how to kill in the games.
When the last two minutes or so of the episode came on though I wanted to scream into a pillow because we all know what is going to happen. If you watched any of last season and saw the introduction of ANY female character other than Asuna who at least had some background/ personality you know exactly what is going to happen now. We are introduced to a female sniper (by way of some nice fanservice of a shot of her from the waist down from the back) who is incredibly talented but will undoubtedly fall in love with Kirito for unknown reasons because this is really what the show is about. This show is a fanboy’s wet dream disguised as a psychological drama about the effects of virtual reality and I hate it. It’s so insulting. The second episode revolves entirely around her and I was just so bored. Something obviously traumatized her in the real world, or maybe she is a survivor of Sword Art, because she is so cold for some reason but I don’t care and don’t plan on continuing the series to find out why. Sorry Sinon, I won’t be bothering to find out about your real world persona or the friend you randomly have in the opening credits.
Out of the 50 minutes I watched, the only parts I liked were when Kirito and Asuna were having cute little moments outside of the game together. Their relationship in the first half of season one was the only part of the show that I liked, and seeing them interact in the real world is something that the viewers deserve. The moments were short lived, but there were some cute times such as when they both note that they are dressed in the colors of their “past lives” almost a year after the ordeal finished.
Overall season one was at least able to keep my interest in the first half until they took my trust in the show and stomped all over it in the second fairyland half. This season on the other hand wasn’t even able to draw me in with two episodes, and that’s when I know that I have to give up.
I hate that a series like this where all of the female characters are obsessed with the main male character is considered so revolutionary and ground breaking. I hate that a series that featured a strong female character only to literally put her in a cage to be saved in the second half of the series is considered one of the best for women. I pretty much hate Sword Art Online, and am not afraid to admit it.
So to round up my reasons for giving this show such a low rating, I present to you a nice list:
- Boring. Boring, boring, boring. Same premise as the first season, “Find out who’s doing this to the people.”
- Lackluster characters that are just there to help further Kirito’s growth who only grows in stats.
- MAYBE SPOILER JUST A PREDICTION: I’m going to make a wild guess that somehow the person who is doing the killing is the random guy that is in the opening credits with the real world version of Sinon because why else would he be there and why would it then cut to Death Gun, I don’t know he has to play some huge role in this season and that’s all I can think of? OK MAYBE SPOILER OVER WE WON’T KNOW FOR MONTHS
- If my prediction ends up being right and I find out one day I will just…
- I’m a hater and I don’t even care.
I will admit that the animation is still top quality and includes some cg which is sparingly used but executed very well. The character designs are pretty cool, especially seeing the way that the avatars are compared to their real selves but animation alone can’t save a series.
If you were a fan of the original series you will probably love it, and if you want to pass judgement yourself go ahead. Season One is available on Hulu, Crunchyroll, and Netflix while Season Two is currently airing and can be viewed for free on Hulu and Crunchyroll a week after each episode premiers. If you have a subscription to Crunchyroll though you can watch it as it airs.
For this viewer though, the game is over.