Produced by A-1 Pictures and directed by Tomohiko Itō, ‘Sword Art Online’ is an isekai anime that follows a large group of gamers and casual players who get trapped in a VR video game named after the show. It is based on a series of light novels written by Reki Kawahara.
Kirito (Bryce Papenbrook) is the gaming avatar of Japanese teen Kazuto Kirigaya who uses a “Nerve Gear” device to become fully emersed in a VR game called “Sword Art Online.” When he arrives, he befriends Klein (Kirk Thornton). However, they soon discover that the game developer has hacked the Nerve Gear, trapping everyone within the game. Their only hope to survive is to reach the 100th level of a tower in the game and beat the boss. Kirito and the knight Asuna (Cherami Leigh) form an alliance and later romance as they work with other gamers to reach the 100th floor, knowing death in the game means death in real life. They ally with others such as Silica (Christine Marie Cabanos), Agil (Patrick Seitz), and a childlike AI named Yui (Stephanie Sheh) to plot an escape.
This is truly one of the most gripping animes that I have ever seen. This first arc truly captured me, not just with its compelling characters or stunning artwork, but also with its themes of loss, romance, life, joy, grief, and faith. It definitely handled all of these themes very well and in a balanced way. I do wish the game developer was described as he should be, evil. It is evil to remove people from their lives, especially in the deceptive manner that he did it. This portion of the anime sort of glossed over that and I think it would have been more interesting to see them confront him in a better manner at the conclusion.
That does not mean the show is bad, far from it. I truly enjoyed watching the evolution of Kirito, Asuna, and their allies as they adjusted to life in this video game and deal with murderous gamers who have foul intentions.
Check out the trailer below:
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Brief sexual content, Some minor foul language, Violence, Disturbing themes
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This article has been updated from a previous version.