Sword Art Online: Extra Edition


Happy New Year!

Sword Art Online is heralding the new year with two offerings: firstly there’s this 1.5 hour Extra Edition special, and secondly there’s been a long-speculated sequel announcement for the series, titled Sword Art Online II. But more on that later!

Pic067LiSA’s OP really brought back memories – but to be honest, I think this special as a whole brought back too many memories. Unfortunately, the vast majority of content turned out to be recaps of just about everything in the show (or at least, all the important plot-driving sections); all the new content featuring the underwater quest in ALO was crammed into the last 20 minutes, which was rather disappointing. It’s almost as if A-1 Pictures designed this specifically to refresh our memories while prepping for the sequel – Sugu’s poolside training was just a way for all the girls to sit down and chat about what happened in SAO and ALO. It’s a fairly scant backdrop, but I’ll appreciate the fanservice without complaining too much! I can’t believe Sugu’s got trouble swimming… you’d think her huge boobs would give her lots of buoyancy and help her float. Funnily enough, I never really noticed how stacked she was in real life – I mean, it’s obvious when she’s Lyfa, but it was harder to tell that the real Sugu had those sorts of… proportions. But anyway, enough about boobs.

Pic029I didn’t really take kindly to being reminded of Sugou’s douche faggotry, but I did like how they subtly admitted that Kirito and Asuna had sex 😀 If there’s anything this recap segment achieved, it’s the fact that they introduced Kikuoka Seijirou. Despite being a pretty bland-looking guy, he’s more important than you might think – he’s got increasing significance as you go through the later arcs, and he’ll certainly be turning up in Sword Art Online II. Kikuoka is a sly guy – he’s definitely a government officer at heart, especially with the way he cashed in the favours he did for Kirito. As of now, he’s the only link Kirito has with the bureaucracy, but he’s far from benevolent. After all, he’s got glasses – and they glint!

Pic086The latter part of the special was a nice change of pace. All this time, Kirito’s adventures have had something significant at stake, and there was a very real danger present. So until now, we’ve never really seen Kirito enjoy ALO for what it really is – a game. The whole underwater setting was really surreal – as always, I’m amazed at the sorts of things the tech in their world can replicate. I wonder how long it’ll take for our RL virtual science to develop to the point where we can go undersea diving online… the Oculus Rift is an up-and-coming system, but we’ve still got a long way to go xD

It’s a real shame they had to skip a lot of the dungeon exploration, especially as this is a brand-new, original story – there’s lots of wasted potential here, and it’s exasperating to know that it was abandoned for the sake of recap material. It was nice to see a boss monster (the Kraken) that was actually undefeatable for once – given the fate of many previous boss enemies, I almost expected Kirito to reveal some hax skill and destroy a monster no-one else had the ability to defeat. Glad to see that didn’t happen! And Yui managed to see her whale in the end. All’s good.

Looking Ahead – Sword Art Online II

57577lSo, about this second season. Firstly, I can’t say I’m surprised to hear of this. No matter what you think of SAO, you can’t deny that it’s a cash cow popular series; this is something the producers are fully aware of. Sword Art Online II will cover the third arc, Phantom Bullet, which is set in the VRMMO Gun Gale Online – a sci-fi world very different to what we’ve seen so far in SAO and ALO. Not unlike how the female protagonist went from being Asuna in Aincrad to Lyfa in Fairy Dance, Kirito will be meeting a girl named Sinon, a veteran player who will introduce him to the world of GGO. I’m guessing this’ll be slated for either Spring or Summer 2014, and will most likely be one-cour given its length in the novels.

I can already envisage the haters. Popular opinion on SAO (at least amongst the Western fanbase) is mixed at best, and I’m pretty sure some people will be scandalised at what our Gary Stu gets up to in GGO. Even so, I’m looking forward to this – while it’s true that I prefer ALO’s fantasy setting over GGO’s sci-fi, almost western feel, we’re still in for an exciting ride. I also like Sinon as a heroine much better than I do Sugu, so that’s another plus – even more so now that her seiyuu has been revealed as Sawashiro Miyuki! If it’s any consolation to you haters, GGO is better than ALO was. Some people do hold this arc in very high regard.

You can read my LN review of Phantom Bullet here if you want a taste of what to expect. There are light spoilers, so be warned!

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  1. sidekick says:

    OH WOW. Now that we’ve got the new girl and female Kirito we’ve assembled the full set! The kuudere, the nice waifu, the imouto, the tsundere, TWO lolis and even a trap! This harem is all-encompassing, anime is saved.

    On a serious note, I was never a fan of SAO but this 100 minute special was really pushing it. The serious flashbacks horrendously mixed with breast groping and swimsuits was not a sight to behold.

    • Vantage says:

      I concur your disapproval of the flashbacks (A-1 Pictures strikes again!) but I don’t think I can say the same about the swimsuits, heh xD Look on the bright side, though – beach eps are unlawfully obligatory in this day and age, so at least they stuck it in a special rather than wasting an episode on it. Which would quite rightfully give the many haters even more ammo to use.

  2. Wanderer says:

    Sinon is wonderful. They’d better do her justice.

    • Vantage says:

      She is indeed wonderful – certainly better than Lyfa. I’m already pumped up seeing her sniping in yesterday’s PV!

      Sawashiro Miyuki is very reliable, I’m sure she’ll do a great job as Sinonon.

  3. TheVicious says:

    So with the SAO S2 announcement, you think there will be any news forthcoming about a Accel World S2? I remember when both first aired, it was during the same season…

    • Vantage says:

      While I’m not sure how well the DVDs/BDs sold, I think it’s fairly likely. Accel World was also popular in its own right, and there are definitely many more LN volumes available to adapt. The finale teased a couple of new characters too, so there’s hope at least. Like with SAO, they’ll probably be missing out if they don’t produce an AW sequel.

      SAO actually premiered one season after AW did – maybe this time it’ll be the other way round?

  4. WandererYS says:

    Awwww, Pina and Yui’s whale version of Titanic. (not too sure if it is true, just a fun thing to discuss)

    I’m not too sure how long was this film aired, but the flashbacks aren’t that bad if it is aired towards someone new to the series. For fans though, well, the flashbacks are dragging things and delaying the fans from enjoying the extra story. Okay, maybe cut out the part with Sugou molesting Asuna (instead just show the part where Kirito gets inpaled and the comeback).

    • Vantage says:

      At least the whale didn’t end up crashing into an iceberg xD

      It was 100 minutes in total, with roughly 80 minutes dedicated to flashbacks and 20 minutes for the ALO quest. With that sort of skew, it didn’t only delay fans from the extra story – it stunted the story itself too. We literally got a single monster fight, with everything else skipped out as a slideshow of still images until the boss encounter. I’d have liked to see an adventure with a bit more… substance.

      The main purpose of the recap was probably to refresh our memories before GGO airs, especially to those new to the series as you said. Though it would have been nice if all the promotion surrounding this was more representative of what it actually offered 😀

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