Anime Review III: Sword Art Online (Aincrad Arc) (2022)

Hello everyone! I’ve decided to release anotherAnime Reviewthis week, so I hope you guys enjoy another one of my insights into anime. Today we’re going to review Sword Art Online, a fantasy-based series which has infamously received both critical acclaim as well as negative backlash from the anime community.

I’ve decided to split this review into two parts, representing each of the two main arcs of Sword Art Online, the Aincrad and Alfheim arcs. First off, we’re going to review the Aincrad Arc, which spans from episodes 1 to 14.

SWORD ART ONLINE

Anime Review III: Sword Art Online (Aincrad Arc) (1)

STORY

The first fourteen episodes of Sword Art Online mainly focus on the adventures of Kazuto Kirigaya, whose in-game character, Kirito (taken from the first four letters of his last name, and the last two of his first name) is one of the 10,000 players of the recently-released titular virtual reality MMORPG. On the game’s opening day, turmoil is thrown into play when the game’s mysterious creator decides to prevent all players from being able to log out. From that point on, the game goes from a carefree online experience to a massive death trap; players who die in-game, or are forcibly removed from the game by a third party, will also suffer a painful IRL death, with the only release from this death trap being the completion of all 100 floors of the game.

(Video) Honest Review Of Sword Art Online (Aincrad Arc)

Kirito takes it upon himself to clear the game, and free everyone from the game. Along the way, he meets a few other player inhabitants of the world – most notably, Asuna, Kirito’s fighting partner who accompanies him on his many journeys and in-game missions, which eventually leads to their romance. Together, they wander through the wide world of Aincrad (the in-game world of Sword Art Online), battling each of the floor’s deadly monsters, overcoming each others’ trials and tribulations, and solving in-game mysteries which eventually culminate in the team’s final battle against the game’s creator, and the final boss, Kayaba Akikho. (Note: The ending will quite surprise you, just saying)

Just judging by the summary alone, you’d expect that this has potential to be a thrilling anime series – a life-or-death story taking place within the confines of a video game. In fact, to a certain extent, the anime itself does a good job of carrying this story out. The world of Aincrad, for one thing, is displayed beautifully, with colorful scenery and a detailed setting of towns, dungeons and secret hideouts – after several episodes this interaction will make you believe that all these in-game characters actually exist IRL, and that this world too, exists IRL. In addition, the story of Sword Art Online is for the most part presented linearly, as Kirito and his comrades’ goal to clear the game serves as the main focus of the story, without having to shift to flashbacks or subliminal messages to push the story ahead. In these occasions, Sword Art Online’s first half succeeds in sampling itself as the standard adventure series.

But, are these points alone enough to render Sword Art Online as a success? Unfortunately, no – and this next part is where the most points of criticism of the show are brought in. For one thing, Many have complained that Sword Art Online lacks a lot when it comes to things like story pacing, character development, or just general enjoyment. Coming into this show, I was hoping that these criticisms were just overreactions, and nothing but unwarranted hate for the show. Instead, I got the opposite after only five episodes – there was every reason for this criticism to be warranted.

The story pacing was badly managed throughout the whole series, I will have to concede this fact. Each episode has a tendency to jump all over the place with respect to timelines, and often in an incoherently inconvenient manner. To demonstrate, let me explain by addressing the timeline of Sword Art Online:

  • In the first episode, we are told the game was released on 6 November 2022, and 10,000 souls were trapped within the game that day.
  • Episode 2 takes place near Christmas of that year – which means a one month gap has passed. Asuna and Kirito also meet around this time.
  • Kirito joins his first guild, the “Black Cats of the Full Moon”, from May to June 2023. This relationship lasts from episodes 3 – 4.
  • Asuna and Kirito reunite, and from here the final push to clearing the game is initiated, from episode 5 onwards. The year? 2024 – two years after the game was released!

Did you catch that? Two years of Sword Art Online’s lifespan have been covered within five episodes, which, depending on how you look at it, is either a world record for longest time-jump between a series of episodes, or a case of terrible planning; I say it is the latter. It would be like a book about American history which goes from the American War of Independence, and then on the next chapter, we’re reading about Edison’s invention of the lightbulb in the 19th century. Does that sound riveting? In particular, no, because that would gloss over so many important plot points in American history. Likewise, Sword Art Online’s two-year jump within five episodes is the same thing – we miss out on Kirito’s many exploits and trials that made him the overpowered player he is known for.

This massive compression of the storyline also leaves the story prone to plot holes, of which there are many throughout the series. One prominent example of this is episode 10. In this episode, Kirito is forced, albeit reluctantly, to join Asuna’s guild, the Knights of the Blood. He is paired with Asuna’s former bodyguard, Kuradeel, who was earlier introduced as such, and another random character, Godfree. During one of their missions, Kuradeel randomly decides to go on a killing spree. Why does he decide to turn evil? What motivations does he have in this, and how is Kirito somehow related to this? If you expect an answer from this episode, you sir,are most certainly mistaken.Viewers are left to an open interpretation on Kuradeel’s face-heel turn, and this incident is never explained at all. As I further analyzed the story, I also managed to find several more plot holes in the story – what became of that one guild in episode 2 is left to the dust, that one scene in episode 11 where Kirito gains temporary admin access to the game’s serversto save Yui (how, why, what??), and the last episode, where Kirito loses his HP, but unlike everyone else who has died before him, gets an extra 10 seconds of life – enough for him to kill the boss and end the game.

(Video) Anime I F*cking Hate - Sword Art Online (Part 1: The Aincrad Arc)

Honestly, this pacing could have been solved if the series lasted an extra 15-20 episodes, but because the story was poorly crammed into such a short amount of time, the finished result ends up being sloppy, rushed and at times, confusing.

CHARACTERS

Anime Review III: Sword Art Online (Aincrad Arc) (2)

Throughout the entirety of the series, a wide array of cast members are introduced in Sword Art Online. In addition to the characters mentioned above, we are also introduced to several other characters who Kirito encounters along his journey. Some of these include Klein, an swordsman who holds an optimistic outlook on life, and is one of Kirito’s first in-game friends; Agil, an African-American merchant who owns his own in-game general store; Silica, a young girl who trains magical creatures, in particular her pet dragon, Pina, who Kirito first encounters, and helps her obtain a rare plant capable of reviving in-game pets; Lisbeth, a blacksmith who seeks Kirito’s help to obtain a powerful crystalline object for making swords; and Yui, who is later revealed to be an in-game program for assisting players with the game, and is later adopted by Kirito and Asuna as their in-game child. For a 14-episode series, it’s quite a lot of characters to work with.

Problem with that is, for the large part, many of these characters are straight-up flat when it comes to their characterization. Practically the only set of characters who get some kind of character development is the series’ main couple, Kirito and Asuna, who are often depicted as noble, caring and seemingly natural-born leaders who also have overpowered skills to accompany them. I mean, not that it’s a bad thing to have; after all, I’m willing to let that slide, since they are the main characters of the show. With that aside, outside of these characters, there’s little to offer from the others. Klein and Agil are often seen merely as supporting cast members, usually randomly thrown around giving Kirito and Asuna in-game tips, or moral support fibers, Yui is the perfect model child, everyone else’s only personality is to clear the game and nothing else, and somewhat frustratingly, after the audience is introduced to Lisbeth and Silica, they are never heard of from, or referenced again – until the final episode of Sword Art Online (Alfheim Arc, for reference).

All these factors lead me to point out Sword Art Online’s problem with the characters; there’s too many of them, and too little development given to them. Characters shouldn’t be thrown in just for the sake of as a plot device, or just as a one-time slot-in; a good anime ought to take characters and attempt to give them some personality, some sort of involvement within the story, especially if their main purpose is to assist the main character in one way or another. Unfortunately, the series’ rushed plotline leaves little room for that. It would have been nice for audiences to be able to learn more backstory behind some of the characters; for example, Asuna’s rise to power with the Knights of the Blood clan, Klein’s journey to becoming a decent player (instead of having him pop-up randomly as a guild leader), and the like.

(Video) Sword Art Online Aincrad Arc Review: SAO Is One Of The Best Anime Ever

MUSIC

Despite every bit of the series’ flaws, not everything about Sword Art Online is terrible. I’ll concede that the story is at least followable, the characters can be likeable, and I’ll give major credits to the ending of the story as being fulfilling, satisfying, and at times, gut-wrenching to the core. But in my opinion, there is one part of the Aincrad Arc of Sword Art Online that shines in comparison to the other three subtopics, and that’s the music.

For starters, the opening and ending of the series is absolutely incredible, up to the point that the opening theme is almost universally recognized by the anime community. (Don’t believe me? Check out any ‘Anime Opening Quiz’ video on YouTube, and I guarantee you that this song will pop up, usually around the ‘Easy’ levels. It’s that well-known.) The opening song, Crossing Field by LiSA, is upbeat, catchy, and has a powerful chorus line to accompany it. Overall, it’s a great way to introduce audiences to an anime about fantasy worlds. The ending song,Yume Sekai by Tomatsu Haruka, is another wonderful piece of music that’s bittersweet and beautifully orchestrated; and also serves as a good foil to its otherwise fast intro. Hearing this song, especially after episode 14, left myself disappointed (sort of) that the episode was coming to an end, and especially after this arc ended and we moved on to the next arc of Sword Art Online, I missed hearing this ending (as well as its opening) after each episode.

FAVORITE FACTS

Favorite character:I like Klein. He kind of reminds me about who I am: goofy, optimistic at times, and knows how to crack a joke or two here and there. Damn it, Kirito, why’d you have to leave him behind in episode 1…

Favorite episode:Episode 9 stands right as my favorite episode of the series. The battle between Asuna, Kirito and Klein against the Gleam Eyes demon was one heck of a battle, and I liked the fact that it wasn’t just Asuna and Kirito fighting, but rather Klein and his guild get in on the action too.

(Video) Honest Review Of Sword Art Online II (Mother's Rosario + Calibur Arc)

Favorite moment:Kirito’s Starburst Stream scene, also from Episode 9. As silly as it was, (how the hell did Kirito get so OP, that he had his own unique skill?) you’ve got to admit it was a pretty awesome way to defeat the Gleam Eyes monster and restore order.

Favorite WTF moment:There’s quite a lot of scenes that will make you question the show’s sanity throughout the Aincrad Arc, but none triggers me most as this scene. In episode 12, Yui is revealed to be an AI program to Kirito and Asuna, and shortly after this, the former disintegrates into data before a tearful Asuna and Kirito. Kirito, using his infinitely-obtained God powers, manages tohack into the game’s server, and extract Yui’s data before it is deleted. Aside from being absurd in its entirety, one crucial piece of information still remains to be answered: why didn’t Kirito use that time he had with admin access to the game’s codebase, to just disable the logoff option, and put an end to this entire mess quickly? You could argue that his first priority was saving Yui (who was like his only daughter at that point), but I mean come on, he could have also used that unlimited time to end the game right there too.

CONCLUSION

I came into Sword Art Online hoping for a decent adventure series, and I’m glad to say I got what I came for, despite the show’s obvious bugs and glaring flaws. I only wish, in retrospect, that the anime would have been handled better than it had been when it came to its characters and plot devices. I didn’t like how the characters were treated as nothing more but sideshows to Kirito, or in some cases like Lisbeth, Griselda’s clan, Silica, or the like, discarded after one episode; they would have made good potential teammates alongside Kirito’s group. And I’ve said this before, but I’ll reiterate it again; Sword Art Online’s first half should have lasted longer than 14 episodes.Even if it were 25 episodes, or 55, having more episodes would have made the story more intriguing and have more to follow with rather than cramming everything to 14 episode slots.

I’ll say this though: at least it’s ten thousand times better than the God-forsaken Alfheim Arc.Oh no, not that arc…

FINAL SCORE: 6.8/10

(Video) WHY SAO Alicization is Great! Is SAO Anime of the Year? | SAO Season 3 Review

Anime Review III: Sword Art Online (Aincrad Arc) (3)

I hope everyone enjoyed this week’s edition ofAnime Review! Next week, my analysis of Sword Art Online continues, as I delve into the anime’s next arc: the Alfheim Arc.

May God have mercy on us all.

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  • Anime Review

FAQs

What episodes are the Aincrad arc? ›

The events of this arc are detailed within the following media: Sword Art Online Light Novel volumes 1 and 2, Sword Art Online - Aincrad Manga volumes 1 and 2, and episodes 1-14 of the Sword Art Online Anime.

Is Aincrad the best arc? ›

Sword Art Online very first and arguably its best arc, Aincrad is a great example of what superb storytelling looks like. No matter what direction the plot goes in the future—such as outer space, which is exactly what the last season's ending hinted at—its debut arc will always be the definitive Sword Art Online story.

Is SAO a 12 year old? ›

Its a great show I recommend it for ages 11+.

What arc is Ep 70? ›

Anime Notes

This is the first episode of the Little Garden Arc. In the anime, when Nami sifts through the bookshelves, she does it in her bare feet, but in the manga, she kept her shoes on.

What is s2 of Sao called? ›

The second season of Sword Art Online, titled Sword Art Online II, is an anime series adapted from the light novel series of the same title written by Reki Kawahara and illustrated by Abec. It was produced by A-1 Pictures, and directed by Tomohiko Itō.

What is the longest op arc? ›

The Wano Country arc is the longest one in the anime so far, with over 110 episodes already and the end being nowhere in sight.

Who is the strongest SAO? ›

1) Kazuto Kirigaya: Star King Kirito

Kazuto Kirigaya is the main character of Sword Art Online and one of the most well-known anime protagonists. Ever since the beginning of Sword Art Online's Aincrad Arc, he has been touted as one of the strongest swordsmen in the series.

Which arc has the best animation in One Piece? ›

The Blackbeard Pirates (Episode 485) The Marineford Arc is among the best-ever anime arcs.

What arc can I skip? ›

The arcs mentioned below are filler, and viewers can skip them if they feel like it.
  • Episodes 56-61: Warship Island arc.
  • Episodes 131-135: Post Alabasta arc.
  • Episodes 136-138: Goat Island arc.
  • Episodes 139-143: Ruluka Island arc.
  • Episodes 196-206: G8 arc.
  • Episodes 220-224: Ocean's Dream arc.
23 Oct 2022

Is Shibuya arc the best? ›

The Shibuya Incident is absolutely the best arc in Jujutsu Kaisen. It was a wrecking ball for all of the series' previous worldbuilding. Satoru was sealed in the Prison Realm, Pseudo-Geto's true identity was revealed, and Sukuna took over Yuji's body for an extended period and tore Shibuya apart.

Is Water 7 arc good? ›

The Water 7 Arc is considered one of the best One Piece arcs for its dramatic character development, foreshadowing things to come, & worldbuilding. The Water 7 Arc is considered one of the best One Piece arcs for its dramatic character focus and development.

What is Kirito's age? ›

10/10 Kazuto Kirigaya / Kirito (14 - 17)

In the virtual reality of Sword Art Online, he'd develop many names, from the Black Swordsman to the Star King. Kazuto is 14 at the start of the Aincrad Arc, 16 towards its end, and 17 throughout the Phantom Bullet Arc and Alicization Arc.

Who is the youngest in SAO? ›

Ayano Keiko, otherwise known as Silica is a supporting cast member of the Sword Art Online series. She was only 12 years old upon being trapped with the 10,000 players in Aincrad during the first arc in the series.

How old is Asuna now? ›

At the very being of SAO Asuna was 15. After that two years go by in Aincrad and she's 17. She turned 18 sometime in the Phantom Bullet Arc. Finally we have the current arc, Unital Ring where she is 19.

What arc is episode 777? ›

This episode gives a recap on the Arabasta Arc.

What arc is episode 576? ›

"Z's Ambition Arc - The Mysterious Strongest Army Appears!" is the 576th episode of the One Piece anime.

What arc is episode 69? ›

ARC-V anime.
...
Episode 69.
The Sprinting Divas
OpeningUNLEASH (Japanese) Can you Feel the Power (English)
EndingARC of Smile! (Japanese) Can you Feel the Power (English)
Navigation
16 more rows

What is Kirito's sword called? ›

The Elucidator is Kirito's Primary Sword throughout the game. He was awarded the sword as a boss-drop, after he defeated one of the bosses in the game.

What is season 4 called of SAO? ›

Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld (2019 - 2020)

What is Kirito's second sword called? ›

The Dark Repulser was Kirito's second sword in Sword Art Online. The sword was created by Lisbeth from Crystallite Ingot, a unique material the pair retrieved from the lair of a dragon after a special quest.

What is the shortest arc in OP? ›

1/10 Reverse Mountain (2 Episodes)

It is the shortest canon arc in the series so far, comprising only two episodes.

Which arc is strong world? ›

The Little East Blue Arc is a special anime-only arc consisting of four episodes, which is meant to lead into the One Piece Film: Strong World.

What is the 2nd longest One Piece arc? ›

The Dressrosa Arc is the second-longest in the series. According to fans, it stands above the rest. With over 100 episodes, this arc had plenty of time to explore and flesh out any character or subplot.

Who defeated Kirito? ›

So Kirito Loses to Yuuki TWICE without using his dual sword skill, or excaliber.

Who is stronger Kirito or? ›

4/10 Stronger: Kyaba Akihiko

He and Kirito are both unique skill wielders, but the latter being the game master has the undeniable edge when it comes to battle. Even after turning off his AI assist, he still proved to be way too strong and Kirito towards the end needed a massive plot armor to save his own life.

What is Kirito's level? ›

In the article for Kirito it states his level at the end of SAO is 96.

Which One Piece arc is most popular? ›

Out of all the One Piece story arcs, most fans agree that the Enies Lobby arc is by far the best. It features several memorable moments such as Nico Robin's tragic backstory, Franky destroying the blueprints for the Ancient Weapon Pluton, and even introduces Luffy's Gear Second and Third transformations.

What are the top 5 One Piece arcs? ›

Our Top 12 Best One Piece Arcs [Ranked]
  • Thriller Bark Arc.
  • Whole Cake Island Arc.
  • Arlong Park Arc.
  • Dressrosa Arc.
  • Punk Hazard Arc.
  • Enies Lobby Arc.
  • Marineford Arc.
  • Wano Country Arc (All Acts)
10 Jun 2022

What arc is op Timeskip? ›

The timeskip in the context of One Piece refers to the two-year skip in the storyline that occurs between Chapters 597–598 and Episodes 516–517. It separates the story of One Piece into two halves: Sea of Survival: Super Rookies Saga and The Final Sea: The New World Saga.

What year will One Piece end? ›

If everything goes to plan, One Piece should be concluded in 2024 or 2025. Based on this statement, fans could look forward to at least the next couple of years and enjoy the series. Although Oda plans to end it by 2024-25, it might get extended depending on the situation.

What episode does Luffy get his scar? ›

Luffy got the scar on his chest during the war at Marineford, in One Piece anime episode 487 titled “Akainu's Tenacity! The Fist of the Magma Attacks Luffy”.

What arc is jujutsu Kaisen 0? ›

Anime. The Cursed Child Arc ( 呪 のろ いの 子 こ 編 へん , Noroi no Ko-hen?) is the story arc that covers Gege Akutami's Jujutsu Kaisen 0: Jujutsu High prequel series.

Who sealed Gojo? ›

After listening to the two ramble, Gojo tells the impostor to just seal him away already, since he is tired of listening to them. The impostor then seals Gojo in the Prison Gate's boundary.

Is Shibuya arc sad? ›

The Shibuya Incident is a tragic way to bring in a new tone of seriousness to the story without compromising the shonen story telling integrity, yet still being fresh, new, unrelenting, and suspenseful.

Is Fish Man arc good? ›

While it might not have been the most intense of arcs from an action standpoint, Fish-Man Island is up there with Skypiea and Wano as the most important arcs in the story when it comes to foreshadowing and adding to the lore of the series.

Who is the villain in water seven arc? ›

Rob Lucci is a major antagonist in the One Piece franchise. He serves as the secondary antagonist of the Water 7 Saga, with him being the main antagonist of the Water 7 Arc and the secondary antagonist of the Enies Lobby Arc.

What arc does Luffy use Gear 2? ›

Luffy's most iconic powers, Gear Second, was introduced in the One Piece series in the Enies Lobby arc, where the Straw Hat Pirates famously clashed against the CP-9 of the World Government to rescue Nico Robin.

Who is the wife of Kirito? ›

Asuna. The main heroine of Sword Art Online and main protagonist of the seventh volume and the Progressive series (which tells the entire Aincrad Arc through her perspective), Asuna – who is 17 – is a friend and later to be girlfriend and the in-game wife of Kirito in Sword Art Online and Alfheim Online.

How did Kirito live 200 years? ›

The 200 years they spent in Underworld were attributed to Fluctlight's technology effect; time acceleration. After Kirito and Asuna leave the Underworld after 200 years, they decide to remove their memories of the VR world.

Who was Kirito first love? ›

There, Kirito clearly states that Asuna is his second love and Sachi is his first love.

Who is the main villain in Sword Art Online? ›

Nobuyuki Sugou, also known as Fairy King Oberon or Alberich, is the main antagonist of the Fairy Dance arc in Sword Art Online.

How old is Kirito 2024? ›

The game is clreared on 7th of November 2024, so Kirito is 16 years old at the end of Aincrad arc.

Who is Kirito's half brother? ›

Vassago Casals | Sword Art Online Wiki | Fandom.

When did Kirito marry Asuna? ›

The 23rd of October marks the anniversary of the day Kirito proposed to Asuna in Sword Art Online. Please note that the actual marriage took place on the 24th of October 17:19 JST (08:19 UTC).

What God was Asuna? ›

Asuna [Goddess of Creation Stacia]

Is Asuna in Ukraine? ›

Peter "Asuna" Mazuryk (born July 26, 2003) is an American player of Ukrainian descent who currently plays for 100 Thieves.

How many episodes are there in Aincrad arc? ›

Join me after the cut as I dive into the first arc of the series Sword Art Online: The Aincrad Arc! ((Make sure to follow my twitter where I give daily updates on this show!)) 14 episodes into Sword Art Online, my overall thoughts are pretty much: “That's it?”

What arc is episode 77? ›

Anime Notes

This is the last episode of the Little Garden Arc.

What arc is episode 176? ›

The Past Arc: The Locus of Konoha (過去篇~木ノ葉の軌跡~, Kako Hen: Konoha no Kiseki) is an arc of the Naruto: Shippūden anime. It covers episodes 176 to 196.

What arc is episode 200? ›

G-8 Arc

What is SAO 4th season called? ›

Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld (2019 - 2020)

How old is Kirito at the end of Aincrad? ›

The game is clreared on 7th of November 2024, so Kirito is 16 years old at the end of Aincrad arc.

When did SAO end? ›

The game was terminated on July 29, 2016.

What arc is episode 628? ›

This is the last episode of the Caesar Retrieval Arc.

What arc is episode 663? ›

Monkey D. Luffy meets Sabo for a brief time in episode 663 during the Dressrosa arc.

What arc is episode 152? ›

This is the last episode of the Jaya Arc.

What arc is episode 328? ›

Ice Hunter Arc
Anime Episodes
326327328

What arc is episode 225? ›

Foxy's Return Arc Anime

Videos

1. Honest Review Of Sword Art Online (ALfheim Arc)
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2. GASP! Am I Actually Enjoying Sword Art Online Alicization?!
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3. Sword Art Online: I Actually Kinda Like it (Anime Review)(Aincrad Arc)
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4. Anime Review: Sword Art Online (Aincrad Arc)
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6. SAO Critique: The Aincrad Arc
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