Sword Art Online
So, when I started Sword Art Online, my brain immediately jumped to the .Hack// series, as well as the not-quite-as-popular No Game No Life. Thought the concepts all involve in-game lifestyles, the three are all fairly different Anime.
What set's Sword Art Online apart? What makes MyAnimeList.com have it ranked in the top 5 most popular anime consistently? I finally sat down to try and understand. This game concept is nothing new. The Story was decent, but for some reason it didn't really stand out to me, and unlike most anime I wasn't actively thinking about it when I wasn't watching it. Perhaps this is just a personal reaction and other people feel differently about the plot. To me, it was nothing stand-out.
The Art, however, is fabulous. I'm a total snob when it comes to art, so it's likely that if the art of a series isn't on par with my tastes, I won't finish it. I really appreciate the use of color in the world, as well as the character design. SOA is one of the only anime that I ordered a cosplay before I had even seen episode 5 just because I'm in love with the character designs. This is a risk however, because I didn't fully understand the characters at that point. In fact, I'm not sure I did by episode 25.
The Character personalities tended to fall into Anime archetypes, and there were few distinguishing moments in which I really felt the personality of the characters seeping through into my soul. I was a bit disappointed with the inconsistency of Asuna's character. Is she a default boring love interest? Is she a BAMF? Is she a Tsundere type? We just really don't know. And by the end it seems as if she's collapsed into herself. Another thing that bummed me out was that there were masterfully depressing moments, but they weren't orchestrated to run long enough for the viewer to develop an attachment to the characters that were affected, so the pain that was supposed to be felt wasn't there.
Honestly, I would have loved to see SOA condensed into a film with better characters, or perhaps just read the manga.
4/10 Confidential Keys