Sword Art Online began airing in 2012 . I was really excited for the show, but I wasn’t quite ready to get my hopes up after I had been so excited for Guilty Crown, which though pretty, wasn’t very good. I started watching the first episode. It was a bit slow until the climax, but I was really excited about the potential. And ultimately, Sword Art Online was amazing. I was blown away at how good the story was. Then the second story arc started, and I almost didn’t watch the second season because of it.
Sword Art Online is an anime adaption of a light novel series (it is the same universe as Accel World). The anime is currently two seasons long, and each season has two story arcs. They are Sword Art Online (SAO,) Alfheim Online (ALO,) Gun Gale Online (GGO,) and then the fourth arc that doesn’t take place in a new world.
Spoilers to follow.
The first arc, SAO, is my favorite. Basically, the main character Kirito gets stuck inside a virtual reality game that can’t be exited and will kill you if you die in it. It is all about his struggle to beat the game and help everyone return to reality. In this arc we also get to meet Asuna, who becomes Kirito wife in the game.
The second arc takes place after Kirito and Asuna defeat SAO. Kirito is released from the game, but for some unknown reason, Asuna is not. Kirito finds out via different sources that a person who looks like Asuna is being held in a game called Alfheim Online. Kirito goes into it the despite trauma from SAO and tries to beat the game and rescue her. He also works with the police to find the culprit in the real world. This is the one arc that I really do hate.
The second season begins with the third arc, Gun Gale Online. In this arc, Kirito is recruited to go into a game and find someone who is killing people from within the game.
The fourth arc is my second favorite. Asuna is recruited by a mysterious player, to help her and her team capture a dungeon in order to get their names forever listed as the first to clear the dungeon. She willingly helps, but is unsure about their means and motives for doing such a thing. It is later shone that these kids are part of an experimental medical treatment that allows them to function in a visual space even though they are severely debilitated.
End of Spoilers
The SAO arc has an intensity and epic-like feel. The second arc I severely dislike mainly because the primary antagonist is one of the most annoying and evil characters I have ever seen. The third arc is quite good. I really like the change in setting and environment. Also, the characters play off of each other very well. Then finally, the last arc made me cry. It is really well done, and the newly introduced characters are an amazing addition to the story. It is also nice to see a storyline that doesn’t revolve around Kirito.
Even though I do like Sword Art Online, it is difficult for me to recommend. The first arc and last arc are amazing. I love both of them, but the ALO arc really traumatized me. It killed a lot of my excitement for the show. Also, the show is set up as a harem style show, which I also disapprove of. There is also a substantial amount of perverted creepiness that bothers me as well. Overall, I like the show, but I will definitely skip the last part of the second arc.
Lastly, this is a very divisive show. Their are a lot of different opinions on it. If you can handle the stuff I listed above, and are curious, go for it. SAO is a great show to start up conversations about anime with. Nearly everyone has an opinion on it. Give it a shot.