Sword art online is not everyone’s cake, like, for starters, if you haven’t played any mmorpg in your life ever, I can assure you, you will not enjoy this anime and the thrills, the tension of grouping up before clearing a dungeon that might take might take an hour+ to complete, the tension of the boss fights at the end of dungeons and managing resources like health points and mana points and playing different characters to do the quest without any deaths and getting that sweet loot/reward at the end of the quest. Sao focuses all these stuffs seriously, but,
At the end of the day, it is an anime, not a game, it is supposed to entertain the majority of the anime community doesn’t matter if they are gamer or not. Question of the day, does it succeed in this regard? In season 1, no, definitely not, season 1 was a total mess I will agree with the general community. It had a great plot but the writers failed to write the progression clearly and what they ended up is an anime with an overpowered main character, underdeveloped side characters, fillers, plot holes and many other things. But in season 2, oh lord, what the hell happened! Like wow, I have expected the season 2 to make amends for its sins (of season 1) but, what they did was truly beyond expectation. They literally nailed it to the ground!
Plot and Characters:
Sword art online Season 2 follows the last 3 volumes of manga Phantom Bullet, Calibur (or Caliber as written in the manga cover) and Mothers Rosario. The first arc focuses on the main character Kazuto Kirigaya returning to his normal life after SAO incident and doing something productive in the real life. But soon, a series of killing starts once again through VR games by a serial killer. The government desperate, assigns Kazuto for finding out the killer and wants him to reveal killers identity; as according to them, Kazuto was the one skilled enough for the job (cause he was the one who beat SAO). The show then starts as a murder mystery action adventure series. What makes this arc exceptional is the introduction of new character Shinon, she is a traumatized character that has to deal with real life issues but is lacking the strength to do that, that’s why she plays virtual mmorpg’s and seeks the solution. By the course of the story she gets strangled in the murder mystery and the story thus progresses. The second arc Calibur focuses on the group of Kazuto and the characters portrayed in the season 1 who didn’t get much screen time in the season 1, this arc takes place on the Alfheim Online which now runs on an independent engine made by the combination of engines of ALO and SAO, the story progresses as the group fights for the revival of a new area in ALO that was doomed years ago according to the lore. This arc wasn’t too important in this season but I know A1 production is planning something big for Sword Art Online season 3 and I know consequences of this arc will play a major role in the future seasons. The third arc is a huge change in the series as, it instead of Kazuto, focuses on Kazuto’s love interest Asuna Yuuki and, makes her main character for the rest of the show. Even Kazuto feels like a secondary character in this arc as this arc solely focuses on Asuna and problems of both her real life and virtual world. And oh boy this arc in my opinion was, super emotional. One of the main reason this arc is emotional as ff is because of the character Yuuki Konno, but unfortunately I cannot write anything about her as writing anything regarding her in this section falls in to the spoiler category. I can say this though, she is one of those characters that would make you laugh and can make you cry through her smiles at the same time.
Plot Progression, SAO world development discussion:
Look, season 1 was rushed and had tons of plot holes and sub characters minor screen times. Not only that, it had many other sins too, but, the season 2 of sword art online is, a big step towards right direction. It made up for all the stupid things that they have done in season one, no character development of characters? There you go (Shinons, Kazuto’s, Asuna’s backstory and dealing with the problems of real life), less screen time of other sub characters in sao 1? There you go, all of them are present in second arc of sao 2. Asuna having no background story and no background details of her family in sao 1? There you go, it’s there in sao 2. Not to mention the emotional path that it took in the last arc and making Asuna one of the greatest and kindest characters I’ve seen. It wasn’t perfect, but in my opinion, it was a step in the right direction. Sword art online season 2 in my opinion was the production company saying sorry for all the mistakes they made earlier in season 1. They might have degraded the enjoyment of the series by doing that, but, at the end of the day, a big salute to them for doing things right.
A1 pictures, nuff said, the visuals are absolutely stunning and the dark-dusty-smoky atmosphere that it creates in Gun Gale online was a huge change from the regular fantasy worlds and it was really breathtaking. The way they swapped between different types of virtual worlds and the real world, I would say they nailed it perfectly.
This show features 3 opening and 3 ending songs which is a bit weird for a 24 episode show. You would at first think, too many tracks, will not be memorable as they change too often. I also thought the same thing, but I was never this wrong before in my life, 2 of the intros are really good. The first op Ignite was done by the same singer who did the second op of SAO season 1 and the song was really good. The opening from the last arc ‘Separate ways’ was really good too, and, I liked all the endings more or less. (‘No More Time Machine’ was the best). As for the background music’s I would say they fit the show perfectly as it swapped between fantasy world of ALO, dusty dark world of GGO and real world, there was the one that was played in the last arc and only played during important times alongside Asuna, that one was really good. Other than that, previous track ‘In your past’ from season 1 returned here too, what made it awesome that instead of mild keyboard synthesia, it was done in solo strings and it really did fit the dark atmosphere of Gun gale online.
Overall Enjoyment and Rating:
An honest opinion, this season may have been a bit less enjoyable than the season 1, but, nevertheless, enjoyable to say the least, with a great variations of worlds, characters, and mainly on the subject of making amends for the mistakes that the show made earlier in season 1. I would rate Sword Art Online Season II a 7.5/10 and a great show to watch if you are fan of mystery/action adventure/emotional anime. It’s a must watch if you are a gamer though, you will find every episode relatable if you are a mmorpg gamer. On this note, I conclude my review. Thanks for your patience.
Alternate Recommendation: Sword art online Season 1; Ano Hana, it’s nothing like SAO 2, but had an almost similar (better) ending.
Opening: Courage by Tomatsu Haruka