Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online 2 anime cover art featuring Kirito and Sinon
Sword Art Online II Cover Art


It’s finally time for me to take a look at Sword Art Online. I’ve been putting off writing about this anime because it’s been a long time since I watched it. But there’s going to be an SAO 2 spin-off series next season so I might as well get this review out of the way before that.

SAO is an anime that divides viewers because either you love it, or you hate it. I’m not really a fan of SAO, but I do recognize its significance for the anime community. SAO is what I would call a beginner anime. This means that it’s one of the first anime a lot of people watch because it’s easily accessible and the subject matter is fairly generic.

The more niche an anime subject is, the fewer people are going to watch it during the start of their anime-watching career. So in this case, being generic is actually good for SAO because it brings people into anime who otherwise might not give it a try. For me, the beginner anime group also includes things like Death Note, or the far superior Full Metal Alchemist (major shounen can also count for this like Naruto or One Piece).

SAO is probably the most popular of the non-shounen beginner anime because the concept of being trapped in a virtual world is something many gamers can easily get into. Unfortunately, I think SAO being the face of beginner anime isn’t something that’s good. The isekai genre is something that we need to move away from as an anime community (although I’ll keep watching them because I have trash taste in anime like everyone else).


The current two seasons of SAO are each split in half based on the game the characters are involved with at the time. The first half of season one is objectively the best part of the series because that’s what everyone signed up for when they started watching. It takes place in the game of — wait for it — Sword Art Online, which is your standard dungeon crawling MMORPG.

However, after the first arc is over, the game of SAO is left behind and the characters are instead in a different game called Alfheim Online (ALO). This game isn’t the same as SAO. Instead, it’s an MMORPG about fairies and everyone can fly using their fairy wings. Needless to say, the series takes a nosedive.

Then comes Sword Art Online II, the second season of the anime. This time the game is called Gun Gale Online (GGO) and is essentially a battle royale shooter. But, of course, it can’t be that simple. Our protagonist, Kirito, doesn’t play shooters, he plays games with swords. So what does he do to remedy this? He uses a light saber instead of a gun. Welcome to Star Wars Online.

Alright, so we made it through the GGO arc, what fun new game are we moving on to next? Plot twist, we’re going back to ALO, the game about fairies that everyone hated except this time we’re just going to play house in it because it’s more fun than the boring real world where we can literally do this same thing.


Alright, we need to move on to another section before I get too annoyed with this series and quit writing about it; so characters it is.

Honestly there’s only two characters that matter and those are Kirito and Asuna. Kirito is the protagonist for SAO and SAO 2. He’s your typical isekai protagonist who’s OP and also kind of a jerk at first, but quickly becomes a white knight. No, I don’t think he’s a good character, but he’s the protagonist we were stuck with.

Asuna, on the other hand, was a good character. She was strong like Kirito, but likable, unlike Kirito. Unfortunately, Asuna doesn’t matter after the first arc in SAO. In ALO she’s just a damsel in distress, I don’t remember her being in GGO, but she was probably around somewhere, and when they go back to ALO she’s just a one-dimensional housewife character.

In GGO we get a new character, Sinon. She’s basically the Asuna for that arc which is why Asuna isn’t really around. I don’t remember much about Sinon though so how important can she really be?

Asuna Yuuki from the Sword Art Online anime
Asuna Yuuki


I rated SAO at a 5 and SAO 2 at a 4, but if I have to give the whole series one score I’ll go with 5/10 just because it’s an important anime. If you’ve never really gotten into anime then this is probably a good one to start with for a couple of reasons.

First, as I mentioned, it’s easily accessible and has a simple concept. Second, I’m sure it’s dubbed which is probably what someone who’s new to anime is looking for (although subbed is better for approximately 99% of anime). Finally, because so many people in the community have seen SAO, you can form an opinion about it and jump right into the war over whether it’s good or not (it’s not).

On the other hand, if you’ve been in the anime community for a while and still haven’t seen SAO, you’re contractually obligated to watch this anime. You don’t need to like it, but you need to form an opinion on it so you can yell that opinion at people who disagree with you. Also, you don’t want to miss out on all the SAO references.

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