Let's Talk About [Sword Art Online]

in The Anime Realmlast month (edited)

So, the final episode of Sword Art Online: Alicization have just aired in Japan this week, and while I haven't watched all the episodes, (I still have 8 left,) I can say that this is the best season in Sword Art Online and I can definietly say that not only the animation team, but also the author have improved immensely since the first season!


Sword Art Online is one of the most popular Anime/Light Novels in Japan, but it's one of the most divisive outside of it. Some people think it's one of the best anime ever, some think it's overly overrated. Some think it's a mediocre at best with some questionable moments and bad writing... Well, I believe Sword Art Online is very flawed, but I also believe this anime is so fun!

There are many flaws in Sword Art Online, if you watched it or some videos about it you'll bound to notice them but I won't be talking about the flaws here. There are two things that this anime does completely right: Hooks and Animation! (You can replace the last one with "emotion" for the novels, because in the anime version, emotional moments are hit or miss. The books aren't animated but some of them are better than the anime.)


So, I think the best thing about Sword Art Online and the reason for the anime's popularity is the great hooks it offers. The first two episodes of the first arc are great and contain so much potential that they make you think of how good the anime must be... Until you don't see anything of that potential manifest later and you might get disappointed.

But that's the thing, expectations play a huge role on how you perceive Sword Art Online, if you knew you're watching a badly written, power-fantasy story with many Isekai elements shoved in, Sword Art Online might be actually good! When I don't take the story seriously I find that it does many things right...

What I said about the hooks/premises is present in every arc. Even the arc I didn't like at all, (Alfhiem Arc,) has a very good hook: (Kirito has to enter this new game to save his wife,) it's just that this arc had some questionable premise, bad arc villain, and is overall way lower quality than the first arc.

The trend continues for the next season as well: Phantom Bullet arc turns Sword Art Online into Star Wars, and the light sabers hooked me instantly. Calibur might be a filler arc but it's necessary breather before the next arc: Mother Rosario which is one of the best arcs in the series and in my opinion the most emotional/heart-breaking. All these arcs had a different but equally impactful premise that has a lot of potential... Until you realizes that the author didn't change and you probably won't see any of that potential, but hey, that's what imagination, fanfiction, and SAO Abridged are for! More original material means more ideas to draw enjoyment from!

I have to say that Reki Kawahara might not be one of the best writers, and his story has many flaws, but you can notice the improvement of his writing ability in every arc over the one before. (Even the second arc had a better pacing than the first in the novel version. Mother Rosario is amazing despite containing totally inaccurate medical information.)


SAO: Alicizaton takes every thing good about the story and makes it better, by isolating Kirito from the rest of the cast. Put him in a very realistic Virtual World with mystery in every corner, and give a male deuteragonist after all this wait. Alicization arc has the best themes in Sword Art Online, questions life, the humanity of AI and the difference between the real and virtual worlds. It's also the logical evolution of SAO's first arc, while taking into account everything Kirito and his friends have learned in the arcs in between!

One thing about Alicization arc though, the main story motive of the arc is that Kirito believes that AI are people too, and they shouldn't be sacrificed. The protagonists fight for the rights of AI. If you don't believe in that, the whole premise of Alicization becomes stupid.

Finally Sword Art Online: Alicization has the best animation of any anime I watched, ever! (Well, it takes the second place after Fate/Stay Night UBW.) The animation of SAO was always good, and better than most of the anime it aired with, but Alicization and its second half in particular takes the animation and makes it way better! Fitting, because the second half is titled: War of the Underworld and it does make you care about those AI fighting each other~


Finally, I want to say to those who haven't watched Sword Art Online because of its harem elements. I would say that while SAO has many of those elements, it's not a true harem series. (Kirito only loves Asuna.) Sadly, I think the harem elements are only there to "sell" and they do drag the story down a bit, but you can ignore them as you watch, because they aren't in the main parts of the story.

What I want to say, if you look past all of SAO flaws, it's a good anime and while I disagree with many of its themes, and the writing is obviously not good, it's still a very enjoyable anime. Since most of the audience care more about "fun" and not about the show being an actual masterpiece, I think SAO has the right to be that popular.

First image is taken from here. Second image is taken from the wiki. Aliciazation's first image is from here. and the second one from here.
Also, Alice is Saber! She really does have the design!

I got to agree this is the SAO that can unite the fandom. Beautifully animated, great story and Yesus Kirito being less, well Kirito hahaha.

I agree on Fate/Stay Night UBW the fight scenes have such weight that you can feel it.

Great post!

That internal conflict Kirito has in Alicization, Kirito always had it in the novels, but I guess the animator didn't want to put it in the anime arcs before that because it was going to drag the plot without moving it forward, and let's be honest. Most anime fans only care about the fight scenes... And the girls.

Friend, I am honest with you, I detest and abhor SAO not because of the typical thing to hate what is popular but how boring it was to see it. However Sword Art Online: Alicization is as you say the opposite of SAO but Kirito is disgusting as the protagonist I weaned him, the harem is not harem as such as you indicate but seeing it with so many lovers focusing chapters on that gives me a bit of Grima hahaha even with the cousin xD. Alicia is the best and I like Asuna here because she is not so dependent on Kirito added to the fact that Alicia as you indicate is a Saber but more cute with that hair and outfit.

Excellent analysis, by the way you think about whether SAO is an Isekai or not because I have seen videos and more than the car says it is not because SAO is set in two worlds not just one as in anime like Tensei Shitara or Re Zero The funny thing is that the isekai became famous with the release of this series so I want to hear your opinion.

It is an honor to read your articles friend.

I think Sword Art Online has a lot of Isekai elements, but it's not a true isekai anime itself. I still consider it an example of isekai anime but not a "true" one so I only put it in a list of these animes when we're talking about these elements. (Trapped in another world + how the story is structured IN the first arc. The second and third arcs don't have a lot of Isekai elements and Alicization has the most elements.)

By the way, I think you mean Alice when you said Alicia... There IS another character named Alicia in SAO. (She's not very important and couldn't find her page in the wiki.)

Yeah, Alice is a great character and in my opinion the best AI anime character ever! Well, second best if include Euguo, my best boy~

By the way, you might want to watch SAO Abridged (on YouTube.) Their Kirito isn't a good person, but gets better character development through the story. AND his Cousin isn't in love with him. Thank God! Many who hated the original liked the abridged version by SWE.

Yes, I think something similar to that, only it is strange that an anime that is not a generic isekai made the genre become famous although the first isekai I met was Zero no Tsukaima which is 100% (7/10 to the anime hahaha I hope your opinion if you saw it hahaha)

Hey, excuse me, there are things that I use as a translator because I'm not that expert in English either :(.

If she is the best I love her in every way. I did not see much development from my perspective or well I also detest it a bit hahahaha especially in the second arc xD. I always use SAO abriviado to find the opening 1 of LISA that's why I get used to it hahahaha.

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