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Sword Art Online 2: Part Three – Review

Sword-Art-Online-2-Part-3-Beauty-Shot-01And thus…it continues. Sword Art Online is THE series that will simply never end. It’s so incredibly popular, A-1 Pictures and those in charge of promotion would be silly to turn to the producers of the series and say; “Yeah, that may be enough”. It’s a guaranteed money maker, and it seems as though those behind the writing of the series can, more or less, throw Kirigaya Kazuto and the gang into any given situation, and make what people perceive to be a worth-while addition to the already extensive series.

Often Anime and Manga hit a point of critical mass wherein which they attain platinum status. Sword Art Online is one of them. It has countless fans, it makes buckets of money, and there’s simply no end to it in sight. Now, while there is a seemingly limitless number of fans for this series…there are just as many people out there who absolutely detest it, yet despite that, Sword Art Online currently remains one of the most beloved Anime series’ of all time. Go figure.

While it’s overall story is derivative at best, and the interactions between characters seem dry and lacking of any real heart, the series has mass appeal! Many people love video games, many people love action, many people love romance, and guess what? Sword Art Online happens to feature all that and much more, so you can see why this series is a drug to so many Anime fans the world over.

The latest Sword Art Online release, courtesy of Madman Entertainment, takes somewhat of a pleasant step to the side of itself: While it still features most of the staple story elements of all previous Sword Art Online arcs, it lacks one in particular…death. This short storyline, that essentially only exists to lead into a grander arc, follows the usual suspects as they simply take on a high-difficulty mission in-game. That’s basically it, and it’s kind of refreshing. Check out the Madman Entertainment synopsis just below, it will be enough to catch you up:

News is spreading among the players of ALO that the legendary Holy Sword Excalibur has been discovered. This was actually the very sword that Kirito and Leafa found in the underground realm of Jotunheim several months ago when they saved “Tonky.” Hearing the news, they decide to acquire Excalibur before the other players. Summoning Asuna, Klein, Sinon, and the others, they set off for the dungeon in Jotunheim for an exciting new mission! – Madman Entertainment

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This arc is laced with Norse Mythology that simply makes for good watching. There are ice giants, a golden sword, Thor…he turns up at one point in time, and it all makes for a fairly entertaining two hours. To be quite honest; there isn’t a great deal to talk about in regards to story because, simply…there wasn’t much of it. It may sound as though I’m being quite a lazy writer, but when I say that the story is simple, I actually mean it. Once again, this arc features a story wherein which a bunch of friends decide to take on a mission in their favorite game. If they die while undertaking this task, they don’t die in real life. In fact, they can probably log out at any given time, though they don’t because, as you all know, even the most mundane of things in Sword Art Online are blown out of proportion.

Now just because it was a simple arc, does not mean it wasn’t peppered with terrible story branches and dialogue. As I mentioned; despite the fact that there are literally no consequences for the “goings on” within this particular mission, the crew like to take it a little too seriously. If you were to watch this arc without the information that they do not die in real life when they’re killed in-game, you would probably just assume that what is going on actually is the inverse. They talk as if every swing of their sword could be their last, they put themselves in the line of fire for characters they know aren’t real but choose to believe otherwise, and they generally take everything a little too seriously, BUT what I said earlier still remains; the fact that death is not involved in this arc truly is refreshing.

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At this point in time I’ve written about seven Sword Art Online Anime reviews. From the very first episode to the most recent, the animation quality of the series has stayed at a constant rate; high-quality. If we know one thing about the studio A-1 Pictures, it’s that they’re one of the few around that always produce good-looking Anime productions. While there’s been a lot of controversy regarding the studio’s work environment and the mistreatment of staff, it does not discredit the production as a whole, and Sword Art Online simply looks fantastic. It features colours that pop, and a fluid animation style that truly brings the best out of an combat-heavy sequence.

Musically-speaking, Sword Art Online, once again, has remained constant from the very first episode. No new tracks have been added, and if they have, they’re not different enough from the ones that came before it to make much of an impact. Still, it must be said that the tracks featured within this release still work well to portray tone and prepare audiences for the story developments to come. If there’s one thing I cannot fault about Sword Art Online it is it’s varied soundtrack that fuses contemporary music genres with a traditional fantasy style of composition.

Unlike a lot of previous Sword Art Online releases; this one actually featured half-decent dialogue that was performed by the cast to the best of their ability which, at times, was absolutely brilliant. I personally think it has a great deal to do with the lack of cheesy dialogue, and it has allowed for the actors and actresses to function at their very best, though, in saying that, it was not without it’s cringe-worth interactions, which seem to be just another staple of the series.

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Much like playing an easier mission in any of the video games you share with your friends, it was actually quite relaxing and enjoyable to sit through the five episodes featured in this release. Granted, you have to overlook a lot to properly enjoy this, but it was made easier by it’s mostly light-hearted tone. Fact is; if you’ve read every single Sword Art Online review up until this point, you are either doing it out of spite because you know that I dislike it and are waiting for the right moment to get back at me…or you love it. If you’ve liked everything you’ve seen up until this point then I can tell you this much; you’re absolutely going to like this!

The third release in the Sword Art Online II series is short but sweet. It features everything lovers of Sword Art Online will dig, and it also features everything haters of Sword Art Online will love complaining about…but just slightly less of it, so in my book that’s a total win! Let’s consider Sword Art Online as a single shot of coffee. Some people love the bitter taste. They’ll have it on it’s own, maybe with a bit of sugar, and they’ll enjoy it as the sweet and the bitter combine on their palette. Some people aren’t too big a fan of the overwhelming taste, so they dilute it with a bit of extra sugar, and a whole bunch of milk. If Sword Art Online as a whole is a short black, than this particular section of the series is a flat white, and despite that striking bitter taste, for the most part…it goes down smooth.

Experience the world of Sword Art Online II for yourself, get it at Madman Entertainment’s online store: Click Here.

Grade: B

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