Anime Review: Sword Art Online II

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January is nearing its end and things seem to be going well here.

Around Christmas time, I got a bunch of DVDs and covered each one that I had gotten, except for one, which was part of a series.

Fortunately, the last of the DVDs came recently, which finally allowed me to finishing watching the series.

Today, I will be reviewing that series, which is called Sword Art Online II (Phantom Bullet part 1, Phantom Bullet part 2, Calibur arc, Mother's Rosario arc).

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With the case concerning Sword Art Online closed, Kirito and his friends enjoy their time hanging out and taking on quests in Alfheim Online and getting used to the real world again.

However, Kirito does not get much time to rest when he finds out that players in a popular MMO are dying in the real world again, despite the fact that it should not be possible with the new head gear, and that one behind it may be somebody from SAO that he never wanted to see again.

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Even though the first season did have a few things that I enjoy, even if it felt like it was being dragged out too long, I am not too sure about this one.

Fortunately, there were things that I liked, so I do not really have to skip right to the bad.

It was nice how the show jumped right into things.

While it is nice to get to know the cast of characters that are being followed during the course of a series, there are times in which doing such a thing can make things feel tedious, which can in turn bore the audience.

In the case of this show, I could actually immerse myself in the world of the anime because it did not try to introduce characters I already knew, only shedding some light on some of the problems they were going through, as well as the problems that the new characters were going through.

Seeing as most of the people who watched the first anime and liked it would be the ones that will pick this series up, A-1 Pictures does deserve some applause, though I probably would not give them as much of an applause as I would for how well they are handling Boku Dake ga Inai Machi.

I also really liked the fights that were shown throughout the series.

Just like the first season, almost every time a fight started, I did not really want to pause the show for any particular reason.

One of the main draws to this series are how well the fights seem to be presented, and A-1 Pictures really delivers on this.

If they had not, there would have been more for me to be disgusted about than enjoy.

The best of the fights though was probably Asuna vs Yuki in the final arc, which is one that I would want to watch over and over again.

Another nice thing was that there were a few funny scenes, though nothing really stood out to me as it just seemed like the usual kinds of things that can be found in the series.

The thing that I liked the most though was that I could actually feel for the characters.

While I cannot say that I cared for the characters as much as I did the Aincrad arc of the first season, things made quite a bit of sense, such as Kirito still being haunted by all of the people he killed back in SAO and Sinon, one of the two new major characters, was haunted by the fact that she killed somebody in real life with a gun.

After all, I would probably not be able to live a calm and peaceful life if I had gone though what they did.

However, the arc where I think that I felt the most for the characters was the final arc of the series.

For example, during the course of the arc, Asuna's mother is having Asuna do things that she does not want, like transferring schools and finding a rich man to marry, and, throughout the arc, Asuna is struggling because of this conflict.

Even though I do not really have to deal with all of the things Asuna has to face with her family, I felt sorry for her because her mother did not listen to what she wanted out of life.

I am not too sure about you guys, but I think that a mother should listen to their children about what they want to do in their life and support them in achieving.

Unfortunately, there are people out there like Asuna's mother, who try to push their wishes upon their children.

Not only did I feel for Asuna's struggle with her mother over her future, but I also felt sad for both Asuna and Yuki, who was dying from AIDS.

Over the course of the arc, Yuki bonded with quite a few people, yet her strongest one was with Asuna, and seeing them go through so much together made me actually feel like I wanted cry.

This is what I wanted to see from the SAO series as a whole, but, unfortunately, the Fairy Dance arc did not have the kinds of emotional feels that I had gotten in the Aincrad arc, or better yet, the Mother's Rosario arc, so whether or not this series as a whole can get better is kind of up for debate.

Still, A-1 Pictures does deserve some props, because things did seem to be much better in this aspect than the first anime.

Outside of those things, I cannot really think of anything else that I particularly liked.

The fact that the show seems to get right into things and that I could actually feel for what the characters were going through made the show somewhat enjoyable.

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Although I did like some things in the show, there are some issues.

First, things were not really that exciting.

While there were a few things that did pique my interest, such as the fights between Kirito and Death Gun and Asuna and Yuki, things mostly seemed to be dull for much of the 24-episode run.

Really? Is this how the second season of a show that quite a few people liked should be?

I do not really think so, because I really wanted to be sucked into the story.

If I had to say why, other than the fact that the second arc ended up being the least interesting, it would be because things felt inferior to the Aincrad arc.

Back in the Aincrad arc, as cliched a plotline as it is now, there were serious repercussions for being killed in the game and it could happen to anybody.

In the Phantom Bullet arc, however, only certain characters in the game, which is called Gun Gale Online, were killed off and Kirito had already kind of established himself as an unbeatable god the eyes of the fans, even though we do see him defeated once during the course of this series.

Yes, Kirito has been established as somebody that has played a ton of games and he is troubled by the past, but it would have really helped making things more believable if Kirito had lost more often than just to Heathcliff before he joined the Knights of the Blood Oath and Yuki in that duel tournament of the montage.

Not only would it have help if Kirito felt more like a human character, but it would have also helped if things were more connected together than they were.

For example, at the end of the Phantom Bullet arc, it is revealed that more than one person from SAO was involved in the Death Gun case, but we essentially never see this other face from SAO rear his head.

Now, he will probably make an appearance if and when a third anime for this series comes out, but that does not change the fact that I was expecting everything that occurred in this show to have some connection to Kirito's past in SAO because the first arc had ties to what occurred during the Aincrad arc.

Instead of faces from SAO causing trouble for Kirito, the show literally turns into what I would call The Adventures of Kirito and Friends, not Sword Art Online.

The Fairy Dance arc, as bad as it was, was at least somewhat to the overall story. Why can't these ones be much more connected together?

Then again, this series was never really known for great quality when the first anime ended, so it is not like this could be improved too much, even if the faces from Kirito's past did cause more troubles than they did.

The thing that I hated the most though was that this whole series felt like it was dragging on from the very beginning.

Yes, there were things that I liked here and there, but the series as a whole actually felt complete around the time the Aincrad arc finished.

I am not sure what it is with people these days, but not everything needs to continue on after the point that it was at its best.

However, sequels and continuations keep getting released and make things that were great into things that are absolutely horrendous.

In the case of this show, I could not really wait until this whole thing was over, because Kirito and Asuna's journey was already over.

The only thing that should have been done was flesh out the characters more than they were in the Aincrad, but it still continues on to things that happened after the Aincrad arc.

Because of this, I am not too interested in the prospect of seeing a third season, unless it turns out to be as good as a few other series that I know.

Other than those things, I cannot really think of anything else that I particularly hated, at least that is not among the usual complaints about this series.

While there was not too much wrong with the show, the things that took away from my enjoyment it, like things feeling like they were dragging on and not being interesting, really hurt the series for the worse.

Despite the fact that there were things that I liked, the negative aspects outweighed it enough that this show was only good enough to kill time.

I only recommend this to fans of Sword Art Online, because they are the only ones that would really enjoy this.

What are your thoughts on Sword Art Online II? Did you like it or hate it? If you liked it, was it better than the first anime or about the same? Was there anything that you liked or hated that went unmentioned? Feel free to comment.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.