SECOND LOOK: Sword Art Online (2022)

What happens when you have a great story concept on paper and immediately waste the potential with clichés and a lack of effort? That is unfortunately the outcome of the anime Sword Art Online, based on the light novels by Reki Kawahara. With its official movie coming out this year, it made sense to look back on this popular yet a little overrated anime. Right away, the idea of 10,000 gamers getting trapped in an VRMMORPG in a life-or-death scenario sounds fantastic, but Kawahara relies on poor writing and some of the worst clichés and elements from anime to make it work. We shall mostly be examining the first season of the anime, which propelled the show into the echelon of popular anime. Yet, despite impressive animation, a catchy theme song, and crazy-awesome Matrix-style sword fights, the story and characters aren’t all that great.

The “Aincrad” Arc

The world’s first virtual reality MMORPG “Sword Art Online” is released. All looks good until players start noticing the log off button is missing. The game’s creator Akihiko Kayaba reveals this was deliberate, the gamers are trapped and the only way out is to beat the game. The only catch is that if they die in-game, they die in the real world due to their VR helmets secretly being death traps.

Our hero is Kirito, a teenage gamer who prefers the virtual world to reality after discovering he was adopted and became a shut-in as a result. For him, SAO allows him to show off his gaming skills but faces the now urgent need to form parties and make friends, something which he struggles with. The early episode of the season deal with the lingering threat of death and the crashing impact that now fantasy is the new reality. Kirito takes each death pretty hard despite showing little value for real life beforehand.

(Video) Sword Art Online Legends Second Look

The biggest blow comes when he joins a small guild, hiding his high power level out of fear, which ultimately leads to his new team getting massacred in an inescapable dungeon zone. Amongst them is Sachi, essentially Kirito’s Gwen Stacy, who we only got to know for half an episode before her death, but there was enough chemistry there to make her death more meaningful. After that, the story grinds to a halt, jumping back and forth across two years in game-time as Kirito encounters various supporting characters in one-shot adventures and collecting his own harem flock, a plot in anime where one guy/girl has a number of potential love interests which he remains oblivious too. Sometimes it works and something it doesn’t, like here. Most of the supporting protagonists, though likeable, don’t grow much as characters.

Kirito eventually finds friendship and romance with Asuna, a beautiful girl from a well-off family who purchased the game on a whim to escape her domineering mother and a planned out life she doesn’t want. Asuna becomes a skilled player and acts as a more pragmatic character, compared to Kirito’s mix of shonen-esque headstrong decisions and lone wolf angst. Asuna remains the best character in the show, though the treatment of her is horrendous when we get to the second arc. Lots of gnashing teeth on that later.

Anyway, the first arc wraps up quickly yet nicely in fourteen episode. Yeah, the great concept which I presumed would be carried on for a couple of seasons is over halfway through the first. And considering there are ten-thousand potential characters trapped in the game, there could have been countless possible ways this story could go. But instead we following Kirito, who, in all honesty is not the most interesting character in the anime. In fact, half the time he is a Gary Stu, acting like he is Captain N, but has few redeeming qualities when he acts smug, pretentious, and all mopey. And do all the girls fall head over heels for him? Yeah, his romance with Asuna is sweet and she brings out his better qualities, and he is cool when he whips out the dual wielding, but Kirito isn’t interesting enough to be the focus of the story.

(Video) Another look at our Sword Art Online itasha GT-R from @animeexpo

Of course, the highlight of the series are the battles, which are fast-paced, exciting, and mix imaginary gameplay with Final Fantasy-styled action. Speaking of the game itself, Sword Art Online comes off as a poorly designed game – there is no magic, no job classes, and boss fights and special events are one-time only occurrences.

But now the story goes on to…the “Fairy Dance” arc, a storyline that is just dreadful from beginning to end, chucking out the better elements of SAO in favour of god awful anime clichés that really have no place in a show that young children can watch.

The “Fairy Dance” Arc

See, at the end of the first arc, everyone was released from the game after Kirito killed Kayaba, apart from Asuna. Kirito discovers Asuna, who is still in a coma, is to be forcefully married to a slimy associate of her father, Nobuyuki Sugo, who plots to not only marry Asuna against her will but to then rape her! Kirito discovers Asuna is trapped in Alfheim Online, another virtual reality game with a fairy motif, trapped in a giant birdcage and the play thing for Sugo’s online counterpart Oberon. And by play thing I mean sexual play thing. Holy hell!

(Video) Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Scherzo of Deep Night English Dub Trailer 2

Kirito joins the game to reach Asuna, aided by his adopted AI daughter Yui (just roll with it), and Leafa, a veteran of the game who quickly comes to develop a crush on him. But, wait. It gets worse. It is revealed pretty early to the audience that Leafa is actually Suguha, Kirito’s sister/cousin, a clumsy, somewhat shy, yet diligent girl and skilled kendo student. The only downside is all this gets buried under the decision to make her defining characteristic and story arc is her incestuous crush on her own brother! But for some dumb reason, Suguha can’t put two-and-two together that Kirito and her brother (his real name is Kazuto Kirigaya) are the same person, even when his game self looks exactly the same. And hello, “Kirito”, is just his forename and surname fused together. But, wait! It gets worse!

Meanwhile, Asuna manages to temporarily escape her imprisonment, and, oh, I don’t know, use the game’s flying mechanic to flee her tormentor, explores the game’s giant tree and discovers Sugo has captured fellow SAO survivors and trying to find a way to control their minds. Asuna then gets captured by octopus monsters, who decide to throw in some dodgy tentacle rape, because, hey, why not. They’ve done every other dreadful anime trope so far.

Kirito and Yui find Asuna and rescue her, only for Sugo to show up, runs Kirito through with his own sword, and then proceeds to…(FUUUU–), chain her up and molest her right in front of Kirito! Who thought this would be a great idea to put in an anime which children and families could watch? In all honesty, Sword Art Online has a heavy dose of fanservice. Not as bad as say High School of the Dead, but most of its female cast get caught at one point or another in embarrassing moments or Kirito becomes an accidental pervert. But in this arc, Asuna’s treatment is just horrible and insulting. Such a compelling character who built up a reputation as an independent warrior is reduced to a damsel in distress, and is caged and sexually assaulted. They should have eighty-sixed this anime’s writers as soon as they suggested this.

(Video) HYPE! Major SAO Change Already? Sword Art Online Progressive Second Trailer

Thankfully, the arc wraps up pretty quickly. Kayaba makes a miraculous return, now a being of digital consciousness, allowing Kirito to hijack Alfheim’s programming and satisfyingly kick Sugo’s wretched perverted ass. He then has to beat him in the real world before having a touching reunion with Asuna. But, then, all of Kirito’s friends decide to start playing Alfheim and Kirito uses a gift left by Kayaba to summon the Sword Art Online world into the system with the plan to beat it. Why on earth would anyone want to return to the place they were trapped in for two years? Remember all the people who died and the trauma you experienced there? The anime certainly doesn’t until the second season. Speaking of which…

Season 2

After the debacle of the second half of season one, Sword Art Online‘s second season was mostly good from the start, split into three arcs, though the second is pure filler. The first, the “Phantom Bullet” arc, involves Kirito venturing into “Gun Gale Online”, a VR game based around competitions involving gun fights. A masked assassin named Death Gun is somehow murdering players in the real world whilst shooting their game avatars, and it is up to Kirito to identify who he is so the government can arrest him. Kirito goes into the game with a hilariously girly avatar and specialises in using a lightsaber, allowing him to dodge bullets and chop them in two.

He befriends Sinon, a reclusive, icy sniper, who carries a fear of actual firearms after she shot a robber with his own gun during a frightening bank heist. It becomes clear that Death Gun is in fact an SAO survivor and a member of a player-murdering guild called the Laughing Coffin. Having killed several people during his time in SAO, Kirito’s long-suppressed trauma bubbles up, and he forms a bond with Sinon over their past horrors. It is nice to see a different relationship between Kirito and a girl who doesn’t have the hots for him. The new involvement of Call of Duty-like gameplay offers new challenges for Kirito and different kinds of action scenes, and the character arcs are probably the best of the series.

(Video) Sword Art Online Variant Showdown : First Impressions

Beyond that is the filler arc, which consists of harmless, wacky RPG adventures, before moving on to the more emotional “Mother’s Rosario” arc, in which Asuna becomes the main focus, recruited to help a guild leave their mark on the world by beating a boss fight in SAO. They are led by the excitable Yuuki, a really likeable yet tragic character, and very relatable to on a thematic level. Though the arc is short, it is very enjoyable. Strange how the show has improved over time. In my eyes, that has allowed Sword Art Online to pull itself up to become a better, more enjoyable anime. All along, the anime has maintained a good production quality and great battle scenes, but the scripts dragged it down throughout its first season.

Sword Art Online is a very, very flawed anime but yet has some redeeming qualities to it. Kirito and Asuna’s romance is cute and remains one of my favourite couples in anime. I hope the movie is good and we gain a third season at some point in the future.

Have you watched Sword Art Online? Like it or hate it? Leave a comment below or on our Twitter feed.

(Video) The Sword Art Online VR game is HERE! Full dive Nervegear in 2022


Is there a second part to Sword Art Online? ›

2nd Sword Art Online Progressive Film Opens on October 22 After COVID-19 Delay - News - Anime News Network.

What is the second Sword Art Online 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.

Is SAO and GGO the same? ›

Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online (GGO) (Dengeki Bunko Series) is a spin-off of Reki Kawahara's original work: Sword Art Online (SAO) (Dengeki Bunko Series). The series' universe exists in the same world as the VRMMO (Gun Gale Online) where Kirito and Shinon met in SAO's second season: Sword Art Online II.

Why is SAO controversial? ›

Since Season 1, every season of Sword Art Online has featured one scene where a female character is sexually assaulted, usually by a male villain character. Viewers have been incredibly vocal about their disgust over the exploitative nature of this repetitive plot device for years now.

Did SAO get Cancelled? ›

The game was terminated on July 29, 2016.

Can I skip Sword Art Online S2? ›

No, you need S2 to know about GGO, Sinon, and Death Gun, and be able to fully understand what's going on. And also Ordinal Scale to know about Augma and Rath. You need the watch the Death Gun arc, after that you are free to skip to season 3 if you want to.

Is Kirito's sister? ›

Suguha Kirigaya, also known as Sugu, is Kazuto "Kirito" Kirigaya's "sister" in the real world; she is in actuality his cousin, as her mother had been raising her sister's child from a young age, though neither Suguha nor Kirito knew about this until later.

What is Kirito's main sword? ›

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 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.

Why does Kirito look like a girl in GGO? ›

Kirito played SAO for a long time, so its data of Kirito's playtime got transferred when converted to ALO and to GGO. Thus, the system rewarded him with that "female" avatar. 2. The system got "confused" when scanning Kirito's appearance, and ended up with a male avatar that looks like a girl.

Is Kirito a female in GGO? ›

Sinon eventually discovered Kirito was in fact not a girl while in a changing room, and was appalled and frustrated that he took advantage of the mistake. Despite the initial upset, Sinon still entered a tournament with Kirito.

How old is Asuna in GGO? ›

Asuna's age varies throughout the series. She is 15 at the start of the Aincrad Arc. Towards the end of it, she is 17.

Is SAO misogynistic? ›

Unfortunately, SAO became caught up in a brutal and systematic misogyny that, I argue, stops viewers from enjoying the show. See, most anime series already give the entire category an awful reputation by including sexualized gags about breasts or having a woman unnecessarily strip down to her bare necessities.

Will a game like SAO ever exist? ›

Stores like Ready Player One aren't set too far in the future. That one happens in 2045. For the moment, Sword Art Online-style full-dive VR is out of reach. But with things like NeuraLink on the horizon, we may have our own version of The Oasis before too much longer.

Will there be a season 5 of SAO? ›

Recently, Netflix issued a decree that the 5th season will be released on November 6, 2022 after it acquires all of the film's copyrights. The official Twitter handle of Sword Art Season 5 also announced the release date on Twitter. The much-anticipated season 5 will thus premiere on 6th November in Asia/Tokyo time.

Does Sao have a good ending? ›

Season 1 of Sword Art Online has two happy endings, with the second one having much less impact. At the midpoint of the season, the Aincrad Arc comes to a close. Akihiko keeps his word to Kirito after their fight and frees all the remaining player-prisoners.

Will there be a season 7 of Sao? ›

The seventh and final season of the American television drama series Sons of Anarchy premiered on September 9, 2014, and concluded on December 9, 2014, after 13 episodes aired on cable network FX.
Sons of Anarchy (season 7)
Sons of Anarchy
Original networkFX
Original releaseSeptember 9 – December 9, 2014
Season chronology
List of episodes
7 more rows

Is Sword Art Online inappropriate? ›

There is a attempted Rape scene and a sexual assault scene. All and all. You should let your child watch the 1st season but the 2nd is mainly for adults and you would most likely feel uncomfortable letting your children watch it.

Why did Kirito erase 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.

Is Asuna a s2? ›

Fandom. what happened to Asuna in season 2? Nothing special, as shown in episodes. Asuna is not a main character in the Phantom Bullet Arc.

Was Kirito's Fluctlight copied? ›

Higa deleted the real Kirito's memories of the past 200 years spent in the underworld and at the same time copied his fluctlight so although the real Kirito has had the past 200 years wiped from his memory, a copy of those memories still exist as a fluctlight which will be at some point injected into the Underworld so ...

Who is Kirito wife? ›

Asuna is Kirito's partner and main love interest in the series. Among all the people Kirito has met, she is the closest and dearest to him. Originally the two of them only thought of clearing the game, but their relationship began when they partied on the 1st Floor.

What race is Leafa? ›

System Name, NicknameLeafa (リーファ rīfa)
EpithetSpeedaholic (スピードホリック supīdohorikku)
In-game RaceSylph
VR/ARALfheim Online, Project Alicization
FamilyKirigaya Midori (mother); Kirigaya Minetaka (father); Kirigaya Kazuto (cousin, adoptive brother); Narusaka Aoi (aunt); Narusaka Yukito (uncle); the grandfather, unnamed
11 more rows

Who is Kirito's best friend? ›

Eugeo became Kirito's best friend and most loyal companion throughout his time in Underworld.

What is Kirito's weakness? ›

Naruto has a lack of talent in genjutsu and for a time in the early parts of the series, his ninjutsu is lacking compared to others. But neither of these is the major problem he has —his true weakness is being hardheaded.

Who is Kirito's half brother? ›

Vassago Casals | Sword Art Online Wiki | Fandom.

What is Kirito's armor called? ›

The Blackwyrm Coat (ブラックウィルム・コート, Burakku Uirumu Kōto?) is a player-made black leather coat, tailored from black dragon leather, a high grade raw material, by Aincrad's best player seamstress, Ashley, that Kirito wore in the final months of Sword Art Online.

What is Kirito's strongest sword? ›

«Elucidator» (エリュシデータ, Eryushidēta?) is Kirito's primary weapon in Sword Art Online. This sword is a demonic monster drop from a boss on the 50th Floor that Kirito wields along with «Dark Repulser». It was boosted to +45 by Lisbeth out of a maximum of 50.

Who cut off Kirito's arm? ›

Kirito infamously lost his hand in the battle against Kuradeel. So how did he manage to get it back? Sword Art Online's first season found Kuradeel attacking Asuna. In defending her, leading man Kirito's hand gets sliced off by Kuradeel's blade during the confrontation.

Does Kirito use 2 swords? ›

Dual-Wield (二刀流, Nitōryū, lit. "Two Sword Style") is a Unique Skill that belongs to Kirito in Sword Art Online. The skill allows the use of unique Sword Skills that are executed with two blades simultaneously.

Why do Kirito's eyes glow yellow? ›

Incarnation allows Kirito to tap into past abilities and skills such as Awakening, and that could explain why his eyes turn golden -- by using Incarnation, he's able to use Awakening, giving him golden eyes.

Who is the female sniper in SAO? ›

Shino Asada

Who is Kazuto Kirigaya girlfriend? ›

Asuna Yuuki

Asuna is Kirito's partner and love interest. They first met after being trapped in SAO for a month and formed a party to defeat the 1st Floor Boss.

What is Kirito's daughter called? ›

Sword Art Online: How Kirito & Asuna Had Became Parents to Daughter Yui.

What is Kirito's last name? ›

Kazuto Kirigaya (桐ヶ谷 和人, Kirigaya Kazuto), born as Kazuto Narusaka (鳴坂 和人, Narusaka Kazuto), is a fictional character and the protagonist of the Sword Art Online series of light novels written by Reki Kawahara.

Who is the purple haired girl in SAO? ›

Konno Yuuki (紺野木綿季, Konno Yūki?), known as Yuuki (ユウキ, Yūki?) in «Serene Garden», «Asuka Empire», «Insect Site», and «ALfheim Online» (ALO), was the deuteragonist of the Mother's Rosario side story, and the protagonist of the Sisters' Prayer side story in the Sword Art Online series.

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 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 the youngest person in SAO? ›

Ayano Keiko
  • RL.
  • SAO.
  • ALO.

Can you get married in SAO If? ›

Players can become married if one player opens up their menu, selects the "Marriage" option and sends a marriage request to the other player and the other player accepts the request via a small pop-up window that appears as soon as the request is sent.

Is Sword Online harem? ›

SAO is technically not classified as a "harem anime," though sadly it does retain a lot of similarities to that genre. Tons of girls have swarmed around Kirito, usually from being saved by him or impressed by his "skills," who all adore him.

Is SAO Alicization inappropriate? ›

WARNING: Contains spoilers to previous collections, and this series is only suitable for over-18s. Includes violent scenes, including some of a sexual nature. One of the things that first strikes you when you come across the latest collection of SAO is the rating: 18.

Can they feel pain in SAO? ›

They do not feel pain in any of the SEED games in the main series. The only time pain is mentioned in a SEED game is in Alternative, which is contrary to how being hit is described in the main series in GGO. In addition to Grimnas' post, the anime also greatly embellishes their reaction to getting hit.

How close are we to NerveGear? ›

No, the Nerve Gear cannot be possible at the moment. However, in Japan, they are creating the Nerve Gear and is to be released in May 2022 told by the creator, Kayaba Akihiko. So, the Nerve Gear cannot be possible in 2020 but in 2022. We just have to wait for two more years.

What will VR look like in 10 years? ›

By 2030, the latest VR screens now have 8k resolution, which has 4 times the number of pixels as 4k screens. When you view character models and objects up close with these devices, there is zero visible pixilation resulting in breathtaking detail and realism.

Is SAO 2022 finished? ›

The ending of SAO: Alicization – WoU teased the “Inter-Intelligence War”. However, there is still no information about this in the available light novel volumes. What we know so far is that the story is still ongoing, with volume 26 as the latest.

Is SAO season 4 Confirmed? ›

When Will Season 4 Of 'Sword Art Online' Premiere? 'Sword Art Online' Season 4 released on Netflix today, February 6, 2022.

Will there be SAO s4? ›

Sword Art Online season 4 Netflix release date confirmed for February 2022. After an incredibly long wait, Netflix is finally releasing the highly-anticipated fourth season of the beloved sci-fi adventure anime series Sword Art Online!

Will there be a SAO 3? ›

Sword Art Online: Alicization is the third season of the anime series adapted from the light novel series Sword Art Online, written by Reki Kawahara and illustrated by abec.

Is Sword Art Online coming back? ›

SWORD ART ONLINE LAST RECOLLECTION: the famous game series will be back in 2023 | Bandai Namco Europe.

Will there be an SAO 4? ›

Sword Art Online season 4 Netflix release date confirmed for February 2022. After an incredibly long wait, Netflix is finally releasing the highly-anticipated fourth season of the beloved sci-fi adventure anime series Sword Art Online!

What is season 4 of SAO called? ›

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

Is SAO s3 good? ›

Alicization is a gorgeous, enjoyable season of SAO action that does a lot right but seems unable to shake the issues holding back the previous seasons. Still, if you made it this far you're likely to see it through to the end, flaws and all.

Will SAO continue after War of the underworld? ›

Since the main light novel series is still ongoing, the logical continuation for the next SAO anime series is certainly the next arc after the War of Underworld, called Unital Ring. Reki Kawahara said that Unital Ring will be the last arc for SAO.

Is Sao season 5 Confirmed? ›

Recently, Netflix issued a decree that the 5th season will be released on November 6, 2022 after it acquires all of the film's copyrights. The official Twitter handle of Sword Art Season 5 also announced the release date on Twitter. The much-anticipated season 5 will thus premiere on 6th November in Asia/Tokyo time.

How old is kirito? ›

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.

Is SAO over after Alicization? ›

After Sword Art Online: Alicization, come Sword Art Online: War for the Underworld. Currently it is incomplete. The current final episode is: Ray of Hope. More Sao will be coming out (as in finishing the current arc that the show leaves off on).

Is Unital Ring the last arc? ›

So for all intents and purposes, that means as things stand, Unital Ring is indeed the final arc.

Why was Sao removed from Netflix? ›

The date for leaving is certainly more confusing as Netflix tends to license shows for 12, 36 (3 years) and 60 (5 years) months at a time. To put it simply, Netflix's license to stream the popular anime title is coming to an end.

Is Sao season 5 a movie? ›

The Sword Art Online franchise revealed the Sword Art Season 5 start date on its official Twitter profile as a result of the perseverance and enthusiasm of fans. Following the streaming service's acquisition of all of the film's copyrights, Netflix claimed that it would be released on November 6, 2022.

Who is the main character in Sao season 4? ›

Asuna does snatch the main protagonist role from Kirito in SAO's fourth arc, Mother's Rosario, but this story was a mere seven episodes and serves as a side juncture in between the Phantom Bullet and Alicization arcs.


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