Table of Contents
- Overview of the Story
2.1 Non-Spoiler Remarks
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2.2 Spoiler Remarks
This is an overview of part 2 of Sword Art Online. Part 1 of this story is in this previous article. In both articles, I discuss the anime, not the manga.
The second half of Sword Art Online actually takes place in another MMORPG, Alflheim Online … and in the real world. The story revolves around Kirito (real name Kazuto Kirigaya or Kirigaya Kazuto if you put it in the Japanese order, which I’ll do) collaborating with a player called Rifa as he heads off to find and save Asuna in the new world.
All of the players are now elves and different races. The rules of the game are different in some respects but many things are the same as in SAO.
I was on the verge of yawning alot. This half of the series started out exciting, but the amount of travel wore on me. Travel; quick fight; rinse; repeat. Let’s build up a few nasty enemies and then slash them down a few minutes later. Oh yeah – we may never see them again anyways, so who cares about the reputation we just gave them. Before you know it, the show is almost over.
To appreciate this half of the show, you have to see it as the desired resolution to the first part. (SAO wasn’t finished even though, in some senses, it was.) Otherwise it feels random and alittle meaningless (in comparison to the first part, at least). As usual, people wanted to know what came next, so I give the writer credit for fan appeal.
It turned out this half of the show was worse than the first half in just about every respect. For one thing, there was more fan service. Furthermore, the subplot with Suguha was weak. Many people were irritated with her, and many of us were surprised she hadn’t figured out who she was talking to until the near end.
Would I watch it again?… That’s a toss up. Maybe if friends were watching the full series I’d join them.
Animation and directing were the same as before (can’t expect otherwise, I guess). There were too many close-ups, and in battle scenes the action wasn’t shown as well as it could have been.
Music wise, the theme song was boring (even being a pop song), sort of a foreshadowing of the journey. The ending was similar (and probably better). The background music was somewhat sparse (or maybe just low on volume). There was some background music for epic moments that was good (and was used repeatedly), although I don’t know the name of the song.
The epic moment song is reminiscent of even if not similar to the epic song for the first one:
I’m assuming it was composed by the same guy.
Part 1 had established an aura of importance. This was primarily due to the gravity of the situation: you fight or you die. Part 2 in Alfheim, however, is just one kid’s battle. The world has shrunk immensely. Only a handful of people care about what is going on in the Alfheim Online world (I mean, apart from the audience, ha ha).
Kirito is still the same character he was before – naive kid with anger management issues – only now he’s obsessed with saving his girl from a single, obvious, and incompetent foe. Nothing really new to report here, but I’ll discuss the morality of things in a bit.
As for Asuna, she hasn’t changed, but now she is completely immobile for even longer. Rehabilitation is going to be a tad tougher. Ah, what’s an extra week or two anyways? (I’m surprised Kirito recovered from rehab so quick considering that he did little exercise even BEFORE he played SAO.) The fact that the story kept peeking back at Asuna (despite her doing very little the whole time) was for the audience: we want to know what’s happening. At the same rate, her attempt at logging out was shown to be so close as to be almost unbelievable. Unless giant slugs in that game can teleport, they appeared to be a bit too far from Asuna to reach her that quick, not to mention they would have to notice her first. Oh whatever. What’s more interesting is how she somehow got hold of a system administrator card. It’s kind of ironic that the card wasn’t even needed to log in as Kayaba (not to mention the peculiarity of logging in as a player while being logged in as another one).
Yui is back! OH CRAP IT’S NAVI! At least she has a cuter face. She’s important for part of the story (too bad she doesn’t provide auto-targeting), and I imagine since she was saved again, she’ll be helpful in the future. My question is, if Alfheim Online was for the successor to the NetGear, would it work with the old console? If it didn’t, Yui would be stuck in the old console.
Where was Akihiko Kayaba? He too would have left SAO when it ended – and been caught by the police – except he committed suicide – a very cowardly thing to do if you ask me. He should’ve faced the consequences (it’d be better than facing God at least, but that’s my religious opinion). Somehow, though, he manages to have his memory copied (which is freaking huge, since humans have alot of brain capacity) and an AI stick around for him to pass on a game item that somehow can start an entirely new world for the successor of the NetGear. MAN these people have some awesome algorithms. As a programmer, I cannot even begin to tell you how tedious it is to code stuff like that.
The enemy in part 2, Nobuyuki Sugō, is the self-proclaimed “Oberon the Fairy King”. Seriously? Not “elf king” or “warrior king”? No, he wants to be a fairy. Aside from being a woos, he’s an obvious jerk. Four years ago, I would have applauded the writer for showing evil as evil. However, inasmuch as he is a villain, Kirito had WAY more options – including viable moral ones – than simply slaughtering the guy, especially since he had complete administrative power over the world (being logged into Heathcliff’s account). Nevertheless, Kirito maintains character and audience appeal by completely ripping apart the enemy. I can’t say I even slightly applaud his classy giving the other guy the sword since from the start of the fight the winner was obvious. But then he has to fight the guy in the real world. Now, would he have had to if he hadn’t hurt the guy in the game? Psychologically, it seemed like the guy was bent on revenge for the pain he received. Except he’s a wimp, and Kazuto (Kirito) beat him. The audience was voting for “kill him” – such a typical, worldly mentality I may address at another time – but Kazuto holds back, despite the memories. At least he’s not totally amoral or naive in that sense.
Lastly, as far as characters go, we have Recon, who tries to look like a hero with the self-sacrifice spheel. Despite having taken some time in the beginning to explain the game, somehow that capability didn’t exist in the story until desired at the end. At least it wasn’t made out to be the only way Kirito got to the top of the World Tree – he had help from characters whom he donated money to and who conveniently show up right when he needs them.
Overall, I have to say the relationship-turned-romance between Kazuto/Kirito and Asuna is one of the longest I’ve seen thus far. I’m not much of a fan of high-school romance. I do appreciate this relationship being one of mutual care, though considering the premarital sex in part 1, I’d say it definitely has self-gratification mixed in it. In comparison, the relationship between Tomoya and Nagisa was a relationship that went from being apathy on Tomoya’s part to being one of intense care for a friend and became an overall a more model high-school relationship than this one (Hey, I’m not saying it doesn’t have its own problems).
Conclusion: Frankly, I was little disappointed *ducks fan darts*, but that’s nothing new with respect to this show. I did like that everything was wrapped up, and seeing everyone again was nice. I am surprised, though, that people would still play MMOs based off of SAO. You’d think most people would be scared at that point. It’s not like they didn’t know it was from SAO since Alfheim Online returned. Then again, there’s no explanation as to how it was restored, but I imagine programmers would need to have a good memory or just the original data.
Would I watch the show again? Maybe with friends. Will I watch the expected sequel? … *grins* … We’ll find out now, won’t we? First, they have to make it.
It’s not going away. As gamers already know, Namco Bandai is creating a game for it, as reported by siliconera:
This news is about six months old, so it’s hardly news to some people, but it might be of interest to more casual gamers.
There seems to be the trend in Japan: If a studio (other than Ghibli) makes an anime they expect to be popular, they get another company to make a video game or games. Even if the anime isn’t totally popular, there is still tons of other merchandise out there, everything from plush toys to mugs and other nearly useless items.