written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
When Sword Art Online aired about two-years ago it was an instant hit! The melding of sci-fi tech in a very near future coupled with a story line involving a (literally) immersive online game made for a thrilling anime experience. For those not caught up, the story revolves around a game called SAO (or Sword Art Online where the series title gets its namesake). Via an immersive tech called Full-Dive, gamers can literally enter the game world and interact with the environment around them. The game world gets a bit wonkier when the GM and creator of SAO, Akihiko Kayaba, disables the ability to log out and tells players currently logged in that they have to reach the highest level of the tower and defeat ever Level Boss along the way (including the final boss) to be let out of the game. Making matters worse, if a player’s HP drops to zero or the Nerve Gear is forcibly removed, the device would fry their brain… killing the gamer instantly. Many people die before the game ends, and that’s only the first half of the story.
The second half involves our hero Kirito searching for answers behind why Asuna, the girl he meets and fall in love with during the events that transpired in SAO, hasn’t woken up and seems to be trapped in another online game, ALfheim Online. This second arc prominently featured a new character Leafa who turns out to be someone very close to Kirito in the world outside the game.
This 100 minute EXTRA movie acts as a sort of clip show, running through various important events from the series. Series hero Kirito is being interviewed about what transpired in the game world while three of SAO’s more popular female characters: Asuna, Silica, and Liz spend time with Kirito’s sister Suguha learn to swim at a school pool, cue gratuitous “mizugi” fan-service with ample boob shots and comments on bust size. While Kirito is being interviewed about his time in SAO and ALO (the MMO featured prominently in the second arc ALfheim Online), Suguha is asking the girls about their first time meeting her brother in the game world.
Overall the movie is a good overview of the story, where it’s severely lacks is in pacing. The Kirito interview follows a more linear path with the banter between the ladies poolside seems to jump around a lot more. Overall, there isn’t much to really call “new” in this movie if you’ve seen the series in its entirety, much of what you’ll enjoy are seeing iconic moments in a more streamlined fashion.
Near the end, the final 20+ minutes ends up as all new footage with Kirito and company questing in ALO. The whole point of Suguha learning to swim is so she could accompany the party underwater. The final scenes were satisfying but do little to add to the story. What the movie does do is feature a little teaser near the end foreshadowing the forthcoming second season of Sword Art Online starting with an arc in a new online game called Gun Gale Online.
I don’t want to sound too negative though, I did enjoy watching it and honestly I’m inspired to go through the series again sometime in the near future. SAO was one of my favorite shows two years ago and seeing the characters I grew attached to, even in the form of a glorified clip show, was a welcome experience. I suggest giving it a watch if you’ve seen the series, but for those who haven’t… just watch the series… could be the perfect chance to pick up a Crunchy Roll membership
GET WITH THE PROGRAM AND JOIN CRUNCHYROLL!