Sword Art Online II | Yes, I liked it.
Yes, a very unpopular opinion amongst Anime watchers. Something I’ve come to know and understand that with SAO in particular that line between love and hate is very sharp and is very deep; I for one, have many times mentioned that I love Sword Art Online despite it’s massive flaws. Its second season is no different.
The reason why I liked the second season was because in keeping with the same concept portrayed in the first season. If you die in game, you die in real life. The difference being, in the first season, the characters were trapped with their bodies deteriorating with every passing day, with no hope to escape but to beat the game. While in the second season you’re free to leave whenever you’d like, however, if you lost to a specific character or got shot by him, you would die in real life.
For some reason that concept of ‘dying in game, meant you died in real life’ always appealed to me, as dark as that may sound. SAO II sees Kirito being recruited by Seijirou Kikuoka (that government official guy), to investigate an ongoing issue within the game “Gun Gale Online” or “GGO” which is what the arch is more commonly known as. Given Kirito’s experience with the game and with the horrors that was with the original SAO. He reluctantly accepts and begins work.
That for the most part is the storyline used for the Anime. Kirito looking into what causes players to die in real life when they get shot by a mysterious character, his name being “Death Gun”. To aid Kirito on his quest, he must of course create a character, for some reason, opting to pick a character that is easily mistaken for a female character rather than a male character. This is when Kirito meets Shino, unannounced to her, that she would slowly join Kirito’s ever growing harem (shocker), but also assist Kirito in finding out who is Death Gun and how does he kill people with his pistol.
The Gun Gale Online arc, although it had it’s good points, it for the most part was the weaker part of the Anime itself. HOWEVER, I will admit that Kirito opting to pick a lightsaber over actual weapons in a game which focuses primarily on gun-to-gun combat is funny and I personally thought that was funny. Where the Anime really thrived in and was the primary factor to me and contributed to me liking the second season was when they switched gears and effectively ‘finished up’ the Gun Gale arch and jumped into Yuuki’s arc.
As I’ve read the light novels to the Anime “Sword Art Online”, I knew this arc was coming and how beautiful it was going to be. I was actually extremely excited to see how it would be shown to us on the Anime. Now I understand that to many people this arc was also trash, but it can be argued that the one saving grace to the second season, that stopped the SAO II from being complete and utter trash, was this final arc.
Immediately, the Anime switches over to Asuna who one day meets Yuuki. A person whose medical situation is so bad is that she cannot leave her hospital room, everyone who visit her must be ‘clear’ before entering and leaving. The only way for her to find her sanity and to experience ‘living’ is through a Medicuboid, which has her in ALO pretty much everyday of her life.
The friendship Asuna forms with her through the game, and real life. Going to visit her and trying to understand the critical situation Yuuki was in was honestly really sad. Asuna cried for Yuuki as I am sure everyone else did before writing their reviews on the Anime, picking at every little detail and flaw. It was a beautiful arc about a friendship that transcends even death, a story that no matter how crap your current situation is, being with people who love and care about you will always help you no matter what.
This is something Asuna learns during her short time with Yuuki before she passed away in Asuna’s arms, surrounded by her friends members of the “Sleeping Knights” as well as Asuna and Kirito’s friends, who all also form a unbreakable bond with Yuuki. This all of course happening through ALO. I personally teared up the first time I saw it, anything that is supposed to be emotional really hits me hard and this arc did just that.
NOW. Going to into the flaws of this arc, well for starters, like everything wrong with the “Sword Art Online” series in general, everything just blitz by. There is no proper development, or story progression. It’s just scene after scene, after scene. One moment you’re happy, one moment you’re suddenly hit with a very emotional arc. There is no proper transition which is annoying. Each female character it seems, gets added onto Kirito’s harem and with every arc, it feels as though Kirito gets stronger and stronger.
The studio needs to pull a Bleach and suddenly have all his abilities removed or his memories wiped.
The Artwork more or less is the same as the first season, the major improvement being the general quality of the animation going up. The characters look a lot more sharper and more defined. Their animation during action scenes also looks a lot better too. It feels a lot more fluid and doesn’t look as ‘blocky’ as it did in the first season.
Another positive to this Anime, which effectively saved it was its OP, ED ans well as OST played throughout the Anime. “IGNITE” by Eir Aoi, and “courage” by Haruka Tomatsu really care the Anime. Both songs are awesome to listen to. “IGNITE” was the OP during the “GGO” arc, and “courage” was played during the “Mother’s Rosario” arc. Both OPs played to the arc they opened for. “IGNITE” was more fast paced, and higher pitched. While “courage” felt like the song was on a journey (weird of me to say that, I know); however, to me it felt like that.
Alternatively, “Startear” by Luna Haruna and most importantly the tear jerker, “Shirushi (シルシ)” by LiSA do a wonderful job a wrapping up each episode with something calm and nice to listen to. Like the OP, each ED is played during their respective arcs, “Startear” played during the “GGO” arc and “Shirushi” played during the “Mother’s Rosario” arc. Oddly enough, I think a lot more people remember this Anime by the ” Mother’s Rosario” arc and the ending song “Shirushi” than anything else. It’s certainly what I remember it by anyway.
Also, another positive point SAO has, generally speaking is the OST, as previously mentioned. It’s use of an orchestra feel during many of the fight scenes, or whenever it’s an intense moment is unmatched in my opinion. It does extremely well to gas up any situation. You have to give props where it’s due and in this instance, the soundtrack for SAO is god-tier.
There you have it, my views on Sword Art Online II, otherwise known as by what it’s primarily remembered as “Gun Gale Online”. Yes I liked the Anime, but I also understand and dislike all its flaws. To me, it’s so bad that it also makes it so good at the same time. It’s an Anime I’ve come to love, especially since I read the light novel for this particular season and I fell in love with it.