Sword Art Online II Review

This is review number three hundred and sixty eight. This anime is part of the Summer 2014 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is called Sword Art Online II. It’s a twenty four episode anime about that overhype piece of stuff that aired back in 2012. I had a hard time watching this, but I’m not really regretting it. Let’s read on.

Story

The anime follows Kirito after the events of SAO and ALO. He now enters a new game called GGO where he tries to hunt down a murderer, named Death Gun, who shoots people in the game but they die in real life. Along with a girl named Shinon, Kirito tries to stop Death Gun but accomplishing that isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Taking the Pants Off

I was not a big fan of Sword Art Online. It’s a cool RPG concept, but I keep forgetting it’s also a light novel anime where the main character’s goal in life is to flirt with girls. It had a great concept that kicked off the “being stuck in a game” idea, but it was ultimately brought down by its nagging light novel elements. Also, I f*cking hate Asuna. When she was killed in the first half of the anime, I considered it the biggest payoff in the show. I didn’t expect her to be the main subject of the second half though, so f*ck her and everything she stood for. The main reason I don’t like SAO though is because of the hype it got, and the annoying fan base that can’t look past the obvious RPG eye candy appeal. It’s not a good anime, and it’s also a rushed adaptation so I don’t understand why people are raging over it. I guess it represents everything “cool” about anime that fans can get behind with, but I’d rather watch a low budget anime with a solid story than a high quality shallow show like SAO. I’m in the minority though, because KyoAni has already proven that the huge percentage of anime fans prefer the high quality shallow stuff. I hate you all, and I hate KyoAni.

I also forgot SAO had a second season. I really just brushed it to the side, but I do remember people went nuts over the trailer announcement of this anime. It features a sniper girl doing sniper things. I don’t really care. I came into this show expecting the same high quality shallow stuff that made the first season so gawd damn annoying and I really want to write a huge review just hating on this show. I was wrong though, because SAO II is a really good anime. It is “good”, but it still has its share of downsides that I actually want to rip into. I can’t deny the solid writing though, and I just love how the anime fleshes out its characters. I can honestly say that this is a very solid adaptation of a light novel anime in general, because the exposition and the characters are just presented really well. The first season stumbled in a lot of ways, but SAO clearly recognized those weaknesses and improved upon them. A-1 Pictures actually tried to make a better SAO, and I appreciate them for that. Other studios would’ve just looked at this as a great cash grab, but clearly someone cared enough to do something with it.

I forgot a lot of stuff about the first season though, but let’s just get a quick recap. The first season covers Kirito’s time in SAO trapped in a game where he can actually die. Along with tons of people, they all live together in this fantasy game trying to find a way out. If someone clears the game then everyone is freed, but it requires a lot of effort on the players. Kirito and a bunch of guys eventually decided to try and clear the game, but it blew up into something bigger. The creator that trapped them there is actually playing with them, Asuna gets killed and Kirito survived the SAO incident by losing someone he loved. Onwards to the next arc, a company recovered the SAO engine and made a new game out of it. Kirito got interested because there are screenshots of Asuna inside a floating tower in the game. In desperate need of some virtual ass, Kirito jumps back into the virtual world to try and save Asuna. It seems those that actually died can be revived because their stuff is stored in the SAO engine. Anyways, Kirito saved everyone and the anime ends. It’s a rushed adaptation though because of two things. The SAO arc is actually pretty long, and it mainly focuses on Kirito’s adventures with some female characters. Asuna is the main girl, but he had some flirty fun with other girls as well like a blacksmith and another one that died. The anime tried to skip over those things though, but they didn’t realize that the flirting is actually a big part of the light novel experience. The anime is more focused on the RPG game stuff, but that side got diluted because the show is trying to end the arc early. I do believe it actually got better in the second arc, with Kirito’s cousin actually getting decent screen time flirting with him, and the RPG elements are finally put to good use with a lot of drawn out fights in game. After all, why have an RPG anime if the characters aren’t going to fight? This is muddled by Asuna’s existence though, and I think that’s enough recap. I hate the first season, and I no longer want to remember it. I’m gonna repress everything now.

Ok then, the second season covers a new arc. A shooting game called Gun Gale Online has a weird murderer on its premises. A guy, who was apparently introduced in the previous arcs, talks to Kirito about it. The guy hands Kirito a job of hunting down the murderer, and Kirito only accepts because of the puzzle the case presents. The murders occur in the game, but the players die in real life. For some reason, if they are shot by the murderer, the victims die not long after from a heart attack. For reasons never made clear by the anime, the guy Kirito talks with actually wants him to take the job because he is considered the best gamer around. I think a line like that was actually uttered. Kirito is the best, and I don’t think that’s something the first season covers as well. Apparently, Kirito is in touch with some people from the SAO incident and they’re very deeply connected with the virtual world. Kirito is now an agent of some sorts taking up jobs for them, and it’s really weird. Kirito, in the first season, is a sniveling little b*tch obsessing over Asuna. His entire existence is about being with Asuna, and it’s part of the reason why I hate her guts, but Kirito is now being presented as this suave gamer that people apparently relies on. This is the first episode of the season, by the way, and I got a big red flag about the anime from the way Kirito is presented. I’ll come back to that later on. Let’s just focus on the story for now.

sao6

I was actually intrigued by the concept as well. Kirito will play a new game, and his mission is to track down this awesome murderer that kills people in real life. From the first episode alone, I can tell the writing is pretty good. It’s a big exposition episode, but the dialogue just feels interesting from the get go. The fun part is that it only gets interesting from here. The designated female character Kirito flirts in this arc is a sniper girl named Shinon, the one in the trailers. She has her own plot point in the arc, and it’s actually the best thing about the anime. The way Shinon is presented is actually just an amazing part of the show. From her introduction to her backstory and all the way to her character development, Shinon’s journey in the arc is just fantastic. The anime really takes its time trying to establish Shinon as a character. Every little intricate part is so nicely written that I just can’t help but smile. The show actually designates a big chunk of screen time for her. In the span of six episodes, Shinon’s life is presented to the audience. Her psychological problem, the reason for it, the people in her life and the importance of the game for her is all laid out by the anime, and this effectively makes her a really compelling character. I can’t get over the fact that the writing is so solid, since my expectation is the same garbage the first season gave us. The second season clearly knows what it’s doing, and it’s really capturing all the great parts of what makes the light novel great.

The actually story commences when Kirito and Shinon meets in Gun Gale Online. They talk for a bit and more exposition dump is given out, but things turn surprisingly awesome when Kirito eventually meets with the murderer as well. The dude just walks straight up to Kirito, and Kirito somehow recognizes the guy. This is one of my favorite things about the story, because Sword Art Online is somehow mixed into the fold. Kirito and the murderer actually met once before, and it’s in SAO. The story somehow got SAO as the core of this particular arc, and I just love how it was executed. A big part of Kirito’s life is contained in his two years in SAO as well, so he isn’t fully ready to reconnect with the game on an emotional level. For some reason, Kirito has some hung ups about his time in SAO. Aside from witnessing his girl die, Kirito also has some unresolved problems regarding his time in SAO. The murderer is somehow dragging Kirito out of the shadows so he can confront his demons, but Kirito might not be able to handle it. Anyways, the story reaches its forward momentum when Kirito, Shinon and the murderer participates in a tournament to crown the best player in the game. Kirito is there to stop more deaths from occurring, Shinon is there to prove to herself that she is a strong individual that can overcome anything, and the murderer is there just to f*ck sh*t up. It’s going to be a very interesting tournament given how the story sets up the individual plot points that contributes to the arc.

It’s also a great way for some awesome high quality animation that makes A-1 Pictures one of the distinguished top studios of the industry. I have GIFs to prove that, like this:

And this:

And this:

Anyways, the tournament is a great way to actually feature the RPG elements and for the story to develop properly. The gun fights in this arc are just divine. Whenever two players are fighting with their guns, I keep thinking that it pales in comparison to the sword and magic fights of the first season. Guns just make everything better, I guess. There is actually a big fight feel here given how the gun battles simulate a life or death scenario. I guess in fantasy RPGs, the excitement can be cut down a bit when there’s a healer ready to recover the player’s health. It’s hard to pace an interesting fight like that. With no healers, players in this arc really just go nuts on each other and Kirito makes it ten times cooler when he dances all over while his sword makes that “woosh” sound that light sabers make. It’s just awesome, and it finally delivered the exciting RPG element that the first season had a hard time adapting. With amazingly paced fights and a strong solid story, the second season is clearly making up for all the short comings of the first season. With that being said, I do have some major complaints regarding this anime.

First of all, Mahouka.

For some gawd damn reason, Kirito is now a Mary Sue character constantly being portrayed as the best of the best or some top notch individual that others can only admire. I hate Mary Sue characters ever since Mahouka pointed out to me how insulting it is to sacrifice a lot of potential just to make one guy look good. I still remember my feeling of anguish when Mahouka took it over the top and gave the Mary Sue character the ability to f*cking resurrect the dead. Yes, gawd damn it, they crossed Jesus territory and there’s no going back from that. I mean, who’s more perfect than Jesus? Mahouka’s Tetsuya, apparently. When Kirito is mentioned as “the best” gamer in the first episode, I immediately had my guard up. No, A-1 Pictures, don’t do this. Don’t turn Kirito into a Mary Sue character. Let Mahouka die in peace already! But A-1 Pictures apparently like the Mary Sue idea that they made Kirito into one. I hate how Kirito is just put on a pedestal at every opportunity, because it robs great moments from other characters. For example, despite being a first time player in the GGO game without any encounters yet, Kirito is able to beat this mini game that no other player has ever beaten before. Oh gawd, Mahouka, why are you the bane of my existence? Of course, Kirito somehow wins all his battles as well. This one is actually cool, but the saying “don’t bring a knife to a gun fight” is apparently nulled when Kirito survives a thirty man battle royal and comes out a winner by wielding a gawd damn sword. Sure it’s cool to see him swat bullets with his speed, but doesn’t it also make other characters look bad when the tournament gathers the best players in the game only to be sh*t on by a guy with a f*cking sword? But I can actually just chuck all that to suspension of disbelief. Ok sure, Kirito is a beast at RPG games and he apparently gained this skill while rescuing Asuna in that tower in the second arc from the previous season. That’s fine. Kirito is not just a perfect gamer though, because he is also a perfect gawd damn detective.

The murder mystery is actually the most intriguing part of the anime. I was always on the edge of my seat when the murderer would bring out his gun and kill people in real life. There is always an air of mystery to it that intrigues me, and I want the show to slowly reveal the answers with the same respect it has given in handling the rest of the story. Instead of a satisfying mystery though, Kirito solved it while hiding in a gawd damn cave. The scene plays out like this: Kirito sees a lizard with two tails. Kirito then realizes that there are two people carrying out the murders! There is no basis for his theory, and it’s soon revealed as the truth behind the murderer’s trick but Kirito basically single handedly closed the case by looking at a lizard with two tails. What? WHAT? WHAT? No, seriously, what?! You expect me to just accept that Kirito, by himself, discovered the most ingenuous aspect of the mystery, looking at a gawd damn lizard’s tail? No. I draw the line there. No! Bad anime! Bad! No! I will not accept that. I will not accept that the amazing case of a murderer killing people inside the game is somehow debunked by a guy hiding in a cave catching a glimpse of a lizard’s tail. I was actually OK with the mystery being revealed inside the cave, because Kirito and Shinon were being chased by the murderer beforehand. Kirito noticed, as did I, that the murderer only targeted Shinon when he was chasing them. I was part of the mystery solving process up until Kirito realized, by himself, that two people are behind the murders by looking at a lizard’s tail. I’ve been reviewing anime for four f*cking years, and I have now definitively lost hope in all humanity thanks to this one scene. But, wait, there’s more.

Kirito is perfect in so many ways. I also noticed that he is actually the only reliable male character in the show. In the entire anime, spanning three arcs, there are only two other male characters in the show. The first one acts like this:

See how he is no more than a comedy character that also look up to Kirito. The only other male is Shinon’s only real life friend. He is actually portrayed as this caring guy that introduced Shinon to the GGO game hoping it would help with her condition. He was supportive and caring at the start of the story. Shinon even mentioned that she isn’t ready yet, and she hinted that the guy waits in the meantime. This means that Shinon actually has someone to end up with instead of being Kirito’s designated piece of ass in this arc. This turned sideways pretty quickly though, because Kirito and Shinon eventually flirts. It’s a required aspect of a light novel, so I’m actually fine with that. Shinon is still exclusively someone else’s, so she can flirt with anyone in the virtual world but I’m comforted by the fact that she’ll eventually end up with another guy in the real world. This plan is thrown out the window when the only reliable male character in the show, aside from Kirito, is suddenly portrayed as a rapist. Yes, because SAO only needs one set of testicles and it belongs to Kirito. He isn’t just perfect at gaming and solving mysteries, but he is also perfect at nabbing the girl at the end even if she is already exclusively someone else’s. Even Jesus would be jealous of this bastard, and I’m just f*cking done with this. Of course, Shinon getting flirty with Kirito is actually a LN staple. It’s the ever familiar accidental harem.

Accidental harem is what I like to call when the scenario plays out that there is only one guy in the show and everyone he interacts with just happens to be of the opposite sex. This happens in a lot of LNs, and it’s actually one of the things that make it recognizably light novel. You can’t trust a light novel that doesn’t involve a guy getting flirty with anybody. It doesn’t work that way. LNs are more than half a wish fulfillment, and whatever is left is reserved for the story. While I do understand that accidental harems will forever be a trait of LN anime, I still hate them with all my guts. I hate it even more when the accidental harem revolves around a Mary Sue character. In Mahouka, Tetsuya’s sister worships him and I’m sure Jesus is jealous of that. He got no imouto of his own, and I’m going to hell for that joke. Anyways, the way the female characters just throw themselves at Kirito really ruins the story for me. Shinon eventually does this as well. Despite being established as a strong female figure trying to cover up her insecurities, she eventually turns to mush in the arms of Kirito. The accidental harems purpose is to really just give us fan service, and I’ll be perfectly honest that it’s actually done surprisingly well in this anime. Kirito rightfully flirts with Shinon even though he already has a girlfriend he spent an entire arc trying to revive. I still applaud the anime because it finally gave us the flirting sessions that the first season actually tries to casually skip. The first season awkwardly tried to pretend that it doesn’t exist, and I hear Kirito actually got some cute moments with the blacksmith girl, but it looks like the second season knows its importance now. I still hate it though. He already has a girlfriend, so there’s no reason to do this. Clearly it’s only being utilized to place Kirito in the higher pedestal, because he’s now a perfect character that gets the girl in the end.

Despite my complaints though, I still love the story. I especially love how Kirito, Shinon and the murderer plays this wonderful dynamic between them. In the climax of the arc, the three characters actually share a great time together working off each other. Kirito’s perfect aura plays well with Shinon’s strong façade and the murderous intent of the killer. They share a wonderful time together, and it lends to one of the most satisfying stories in the SAO franchise. Shinon’s arc ends at episode 14 though, but the anime has ten more episodes to go. I was a bit confused at the decision to extend the show to twenty four episodes, but it did have some great pay off at the end. The next arc isn’t that good though, and it’s mainly because Kirito is the center of it all. I actually lost interest in the anime for a long time before I finally convinced myself to finish this damn thing.

The following episodes contain two more arcs. The next arc occupies three episodes, and it actually feels more like a lost OVA or something. In this arc, Kirito sets out to better prove his perfectness by nabbing the legendary sword Excaliber. Along with the familiar characters in ALO, he sets out to find the sword and claim it as his own. It’s a straight forward story of the group exploring a dungeon, fighting the boss and getting the reward. It’s predictable, but I do think the story is still handled well. The exposition is still nicely laid out, and the progression still looks great. I think this arc serves more as a way to actually tie up some loose ends regarding the first season. You see, SAO sucked at presenting boss fights. The pacing, the RPG elements and the battle itself feel lacking. This is evident in the closing moments of SAO when Kirito battled the creator of the game. It didn’t feel that impressive, and it served more as a required scene to end the damn arc. In the three episodes dedicated to finding Excaliber though, we are treated to two nicely paced boss fights and some impressive animation. It’s not just Kirito getting some awesome moments as well. Kirito and his group all went balls out on the enemy, and the sequence really reminds me off Cloud and Tifa unleashing their limit breaks on some random boss fight. It looks awesome, and it feels awesome. I had to repress my hatred though when Kirito is put on high pedestal once again when he’s the only character to have the ability to do consecutive limit breaks. I mean really, the other characters can’t have anything especial of their own? One of them has a little cute dragon, but Kirito has an AI that actually tells him when an enemy will attack so it’s really unfair. He also gets the sword in the end, so f*ck this arc.

Thankfully, the last arc actually doesn’t have anything to do with Kirito. I didn’t think it was possible, but Asuna actually assumes the main role in the final arc. There is actually an amazing focus on Asuna here, as we discover more about the girl I wished stayed dead in the first season. Her character is fleshed out here focusing on her relationship with her mother. While she is handling that, she also encounters a warrior named Zekken that challenges people to a duel. I think Zekken bagged 67 wins before Asuna took the challenge, and it was a pretty cool encounter. The story blossoms into something unexpected though, and it turns very dramatic. I love the emotional roller coaster the final arc brings us, and it’s a nice change of pace after the action packed arcs that came before it.  The drama is honestly a bit forced, but it’s still a really unexpected treat to end the anime. The arc also tried to make me like Asuna, and I think the whole thing worked. I now feel sympathy for Asuna, and you gotta hand it to the story for making a bland piece of cardboard like Asuna compelling in the final arc of the second season.

I also like the way the show ends with a scene between Kirito and Asuna. At the start of the series, Kirito and Asuna actually had a conversation about the difference of the virtual world and the real world. Citing technical stuff, Kirito argues that it’s about the amount of data stored in both worlds. Asuna then follows up that there might not be much difference at all, and I think she argued the emotional level of both worlds. The scene made no sense, especially after being reunited with the series four years since the first season aired. This scene is actually a clever little setup to introduce the main theme of Sword Art Online. I remember in Baccano, the first scene is between a girl and an old guy discussing who the main character of the story is. The old guy hints that the main character is whoever you wanted it to be, and it’s actually a clever little nod to the clusterf*ck that’ll follow. The scene between Asuna and Kirito plays out the same way.

SAO’s main theme is the connection between the real world and the virtual world. Both worlds exist and the person is not that far apart from his avatar. This theme is actually part of every arc in the SAO. In the first arc, in season one, Kirito and Asuna’s love transcends the difference between both worlds. In the second arc, their love persists despite one of them not existing in the real world. There’s also that stuff about Kirito’s cousin, but I forgot her plot point. In the third arc, Shinon’s strong avatar is the same fragile Shinon too scared to hold a gun in real life. In the fourth arc, the SAO engine somehow starts blurring the lines between fantasy and reality when it starts having NPCs that can think on their own. This arc is garbage so I had to force the theme in there. And in the last arc, a strong Zekken is the same one attached to a life support. In Baccano, the series actually ends with the girl and the old guy concluding that main characters aren’t that important: a sentiment to the idea of Baccano. Kirito and Asuna do the same thing by ending the series discussing the theme of SAO. It’s another big reason why I absolutely love the story of the second season.

The characters are all pretty great. The ones heavily featured in the arcs are all wonderfully presented. Shinon, Zekken and even Death Gun are all fleshed out nicely in their story. I especially love how the story can get the audience to sympathize with the characters. Shinon’s character development is really great because the story found a way to make the audience care. Her backstory is nicely presented, and this lends to making us care about her journey into overcoming her condition. The same goes for Zekken. The guy is a strong figure at first, but the show slowly sprinkles the situations that’ll make us care about Zekken. His tragic backstory is just divine to see unfold, and Asuna’s face as she witnesses the real life Zekken is just heart breaking to watch. This is coming from someone that truly hates Asuna. The character development even served Death Gun. Stuck in his days in SAO, he loses his identity in real life and soon seeks the function he once had in SAO. It’s both sad but also a bit f*cked, and this makes Death Gun such a compelling character. Even Asuna is nicely developed in the second season, and I just love how the story really served her well. I don’t want to talk about Kirito. Let’s just end this review already.

A-1 Pictures really did a great job with this anime. I love how they initially improved the second season understanding the flaws of the first one. This is the mark of a great studio, because they really didn’t have to improve anything. Being an established studio, they didn’t have to put effort in a popular title like this one. They still did though, and it just goes to show that there is always a side of A-1 Pictures that values its fans above all else. You can always trust a studio that thinks like this to deliver great anime, and I’ll make sure they get the praises they rightfully deserve. Also, I hate KyoAni. Anyways, this anime is directed by Tomohiko Itou. His claim to fame is actually the first season of this anime, and he mostly just serves as a storyboard or episode director before that. He did get a chance to direct Silver Spoon after he struck high with SAO. Good for him, but this guy clearly lacks as a director. He just adapts things straight on, and this actually lends to why the first season sucks. Reki Kawahara actually admitted that SAO had some plot holes. He did some interview where he wished he could’ve done better, and it looks like the solid storytelling in the second season is a product of a better original source. You can watch the interview here, and it’s pretty cool to see a writer actually express his shortcomings. I don’t expect him to admit it, but I think this is a big reason why the second season feels so great. I’ll also give points for Tomohiko for capturing the author’s improvement in his writing. It’s weird knowing Reki tried to fix his shortcomings thanks to watching the anime. What weird Inception sh*t is this?

Sight and Sound

The character design is done by an artist named “abec”. The artist did a great job at designing the characters as they really play up the MMORPG appeal of the story. The characters from ALO are all pretty great capturing the design of their specific jobs while also making each character unique in their own way. I love abec’s slim build characters, because it’s a great body proportion to have when you’re sporting fantasy outfits like armor or various types of swords. A-1 Pictures kinda diluted some of the design though by giving them standard colors. Like most light novels, abec’s design pops thanks to the combination of colors the characters have. It’s accurate to the character, but it doesn’t capture the flashy eye candy appeal abec’s design is supposed to have. I have no complains with Shinon though. You can tell someone enjoyed designing a character with short shorts. Shinon’s design is just straight up sexy appealing to the masculine mindset you’d expect in a gun centered game. It’s a nice stand out design from the ALO characters simple because of how revealing it is. In some scenes, the anime even zooms on her ass and stuff clearing admiring the fan service design abec gave to Shinon. The designs of the guns are also nicely made. The grittiness of GGO is really captured in how the guns look, and I love how they put effort in making them look as legit as possible. The facial designs are a bit lacking in detail, but I think abec’s main goal is to have you focus on the character’s build and outfit instead.

The animation is outstanding. Just look at those GIFs! Holy pikachu, it’s awesome. I love the pacing of the fights, because you can tell an insane amount of effort is put in it. Its length is ideal to carry the story while also providing some intense high quality animation to make the scene awesome. I expect nothing less from A-1 Pictures, and they really made sure it’s as epic as the first season. The movements are all pretty smooth, and the camera angles are all really interesting. I love how a limit break can have different angles to show how impressive it looks. Along with the high quality movements, the camera angle adds more flare to an already impressive scene. I also love the way the MMORPG elements are nicely carried out. The option menus are nicely presented, and the monsters all act pretty menacing. Even a random plant monster in one scene looks legit in how the scene plays out with the characters gathering to slay it. There are also scenes where the show goes first person POV, and even though it doesn’t happen a lot, it really adds to the immersive feel of GGO starting out.

The anime has two OPs. The first one is “IGNITE” by Eir Aoi . It’s a very decent song, but I find the lyrics a bit bland. Some of them feels like generic lines strung together to create a somewhat meaningful song. Except the song doesn’t really have much meaning beyond it sounding cliché. It’s a good thing Eir has a great voice, and the chorus is awesome to listen to. The OP sequence features the GGO arc as you see the high quality animation of the fights and the relationship between the three main characters presented in the sequence. The second OP is “courage” by Haruka Tomatsu. It’s another generic sounding song, but I do think this one fits the general theme of the anime. It hypes me up a bit as Haruka’s song somehow matches well with the nice OP sequence paired with it. The show actually has three OP matching the three arcs in the season, and the remaining two pretty much serve as a nice montage to summarize the arcs. The Excaliber arc actually looks cool in the OP sequence even if it spoils some of its highlight events. The Mother Rosario arc’s OP also summarizes its events, and it even spoils Zekken’s identity by revealing him at the start of the sequence. Still, it looks awesome. I especially love the two babies walking and growing and then becoming one as Zekken walks along, because it actually tells a big part of the story. It’s done in a really creative way though, and this sequence is actually one of my favorites now because of just how it brings out the emotional aspect of the Mother Rosario arc.

The anime has two EDs. The first one is “Startear” by Luna Haruna. It’s a lovely song about Shinon’s struggle to be strong. The lyrics sound a bit generic as well, but it becomes somewhat special when it’s related to Shinon’s conflict. I love it paired with the ED sequence of Shinon and her avatar just dancing around and looking all cool together. It ends with Shinon and her other self hugging each other, and you can’t really go wrong with Shinon so this sequence looks pretty cool. I also love the animation, because it just features Shinon dancing around and it looks absolutely cute. The second ED is “No More Time Machine” by LiSA. It’s another generic song, but I do like the somber tone of it. It nicely captures the heart of the last arc, but it’s a bit obvious at trying to make you sad. It’s even more so with the ED sequence of Asuna listening to the song while surrounded by cherry blossoms. I think an anime taught me once that falling cherry blossoms is like a symbol of death or something, and it’s pretty much a big spoiler to the Mother Rosario arc. It also highlights Zekken and Asuna’s relationship and it just looks manipulative. I don’t like it, but it does come together to make a decent ED sequence.

Overall Score

7/10 “The story, the characters and the animation combines into an anime experience clearly superior to the first season.”

This is a really good anime. I have my complaints, but I can’t deny how amazing the anime experience is for this show. The writing is top notch and the action is nicely presented. The characters are all developed wonderfully, and the various arcs all have their memorable moments. If you liked the first season, then you’ll enjoy the second one greatly. If you like RPG anime, then you’ll like the follow up to the anime that started the trend. If you like LN anime, then here’s one that seriously presents everything both good and bad about the medium in a really entertaining way. I was ready to hate this anime, but I know it actually deserved my praises. I recommend it.

6 thoughts on “Sword Art Online II Review

  1. Season 2 has a few aspects I don’t like, but definitely agreed that it’s by far the more superior season of the two. I especially like the Mother Rosario arc because a change of character perspective is what SAO desperately needed at the time. But regardless of that, it’s also a fairly good, emotional standalone arc.

    • i just didn’t like the ending of mother rosario where people gathered to watch someone die. looks a bit cheesy.
      the aids thing was great though. i was like, whoa things escalated fast.

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