The old saying goes; “never bring a knife to a gunfight“, but for Kirigaya Kazuto those words are nothing but empty letter jumbles. Kagemitsu G4 in hand, Kirito takes on each and every single gunslinger in the Bullet Of Bullets tournament with the hope of finding Death Gun; the renegade player killer and former member of the Laughing Coffin guild, stopping his murderous spree once and for all. Part two of Sword Art Online II takes place entirely in the Bullet Of Bullets events as players slowly get whittled away, and the true identity of Death Gun is inevitably revealed.
If you’re in need of a quick refresh regarding part one of Sword Art Online II, I suggest taking a read of my review, which you can get to by Clicking Here. It’s worth taking the time, seeing as there will be some direct references to the comments I made in the review of the first volume scattered throughout this here review of volume two.
This will be my second time watching through Sword Art Online II, seeing as I watched it previously through it’s simulcast release, and it has helped me to somewhat understand it’s more complex layers rather than continuing to see it as the sappy romance series wrapped in an MMORPG. Thanks to madman Entertainment for providing a review copy, I’ve now been able to assess this series once again, and in doing so I feel that I’ve come to enjoy it more for what it does right than simply judging it on what it does wrong; something I’m sure out Sword Art Online-loving fans have been waiting to hear ever since I reviewed the first series a year and a half ago.
Kirito is now certain that Death Gun is also a survivor of SAO. And to make things worse, he is most likely an ex-member of the murder guild, Laughing Coffin. As the final tournament of Bullet of Bullets begins, Kirito and Sinon agree to join forces until they identify which player is Death Gun.
Through the battles, Sinon learns that Kirito also suffers from traumatic memories from the past. But as Sinon sees Kirito trying to overcome them, she too tries to be strong. As BoB reaches its last stage, Kirito suspects that Death Gun may have one or more accomplices in the real world, and they may be targeting Shino Asada as their next target! – Madman Entertainment
I think it’s just nice to see this length of the series’ story finally wrap up. in all honesty; I found Sword Art Online II to be an unnecessary continuation of the Sword Art Online series meaning that, in a surprising turn of events, I actually enjoyed the first series much more than I enjoyed the Gun Gale Online storyline. What helped win me over, and what helped me to actually enjoy the ending of this series, was exactly that….the ending. This volume featured nothing but high-octane action, and well-written, fleshed-out, and fast-paced story development; something I never thought possible of Sword Art Online. Instead of forcing the audience to sit through countless scenes of characters talking about how they feel outside the game, the second half of Sword Art Online II showed that these characters can actually stick to the mission at hand, rather than faltering at every turn and becoming distracted by meaningless plot points that seem to be repeated every single episode.
Unlike the first half of Sword Art Online II, and a great deal of the first series, I felt as though there was a mature nature to the way in which characters interacted with each other. The dialogue was written, and subsequently performed, in a way that made these characters seem oddly realistic. They no longer pulled punches with one another, they began to swear, become more aggressive, and perfectly represent how one would act if they were truly in the life-or-death situation of these characters. For the very first time in Sword Art Online history, I actually found myself enjoying Kirito’s onscreen presence, rather than cringing every time he opened his mouth.
Sword Art Online, as a whole, has always featured striking visuals. Being an A-1 Pictures production, it’s no secret that this series plays host to an incredibly smooth level of high-quality animation, especially when it comes to combat scenes, and nothing is different in Sword Art Online II. Part two of the series, as mentioned earlier, features a great deal more combat than that of it’s predecessor which I felt as though helped me to enjoy it all the more seeing as it gave itself less time to make silly dialogue or storytelling mistakes, focusing only on capturing audiences through their need for high-octane violence.
What visually aids the series more than just fluid animation is the backdrops on which said battles are fought; all of which look absolutely stunning. We’re quite fortunate to have been given a Blu-Ray copy of the Anime’s second half to review, it helps one truly understand just how wonderfully detailed certain visuals can be and works as a huge benefit for any series sporting high quality visuals.
Once again, due to the lack of dialogue, with this part of the series instead focusing a great deal on combat, I wasn’t too deterred from watching it due to the dry interactions between characters much like I was with the first part of the two part series. With certain exceptions, most of what these characters said was concise, sensible, realistic, and beneficial to not only the story but to the individual character.
Sword Art Online II features some very talented voice performers who don’t often get a chance to show just how good they are at their art thanks to nonsensical writing. I feel as though, this time around, that has changed. There was an air of confidence that swelled around these characters as the series came to a close, and I can’t quite give an educated reason as to why. All I know is that I felt like both Kirito and Sinon had grown in a very short time, but too a degree in which I began to actually really enjoy them as protagonists. The soundtrack was much like that of the series’ first part, which isn’t a bad thing at all, it’s just that they fit into the same series and, therefor, will not show much change between parts one and two.
Surprisingly, I actually very much enjoyed my time with Sword Art Online II thanks to part two of the series. Part two took a massive turn in overall tone, and while the story wasn’t changed from one part to the next, I felt as though it matured in quite a subtle yet overtly obvious way, as contradictory as that sounds. Many small changes lead to an overall natural evolution in the series that lead to a thrilling ending. What helped me more enjoy Sword Art Online II as a whole was the lack of romantic interaction. Despite the fact that there were a few particularly sexually-charged moments between Kirito and Sinon, the fact that Asuna wasn’t around to encourage romantic writing made it easier to enjoy an Anime series about real-life deaths as a cause of video games. Then again, I can see why many people enjoy the romantic aspect of Sword Art Online.
Overall I found Sword Art Online II to actually be quite a good series, disregarding certain ridiculous and unnecessary story developments and scenes. it featured a worthwhile ending to a slightly above average storyline that, although felt a little tacky, made sense in regards to the story foundation that had been laid out during part one. Sword Art Online fans will enjoy it, no doubt, but I feel as though, this time around, so will audience members like me who never thought they would.
Experience the world of Sword Art Online II for yourself, get it at Madman Entertainment’s online store: Click Here.