Sword Art Online: Extra Edition
Happy New Year!
Sword Art Online is heralding the new year with two offerings: firstly there’s this 1.5 hour Extra Edition special, and secondly there’s been a long-speculated sequel announcement for the series, titled Sword Art Online II. But more on that later!
LiSA’s OP really brought back memories – but to be honest, I think this special as a whole brought back too many memories. Unfortunately, the vast majority of content turned out to be recaps of just about everything in the show (or at least, all the important plot-driving sections); all the new content featuring the underwater quest in ALO was crammed into the last 20 minutes, which was rather disappointing. It’s almost as if A-1 Pictures designed this specifically to refresh our memories while prepping for the sequel – Sugu’s poolside training was just a way for all the girls to sit down and chat about what happened in SAO and ALO. It’s a fairly scant backdrop, but I’ll appreciate the fanservice without complaining too much! I can’t believe Sugu’s got trouble swimming… you’d think her huge boobs would give her lots of buoyancy and help her float. Funnily enough, I never really noticed how stacked she was in real life – I mean, it’s obvious when she’s Lyfa, but it was harder to tell that the real Sugu had those sorts of… proportions. But anyway, enough about boobs.
I didn’t really take kindly to being reminded of Sugou’s douche faggotry, but I did like how they subtly admitted that Kirito and Asuna had sex :D If there’s anything this recap segment achieved, it’s the fact that they introduced Kikuoka Seijirou. Despite being a pretty bland-looking guy, he’s more important than you might think – he’s got increasing significance as you go through the later arcs, and he’ll certainly be turning up in Sword Art Online II. Kikuoka is a sly guy – he’s definitely a government officer at heart, especially with the way he cashed in the favours he did for Kirito. As of now, he’s the only link Kirito has with the bureaucracy, but he’s far from benevolent. After all, he’s got glasses – and they glint!
The latter part of the special was a nice change of pace. All this time, Kirito’s adventures have had something significant at stake, and there was a very real danger present. So until now, we’ve never really seen Kirito enjoy ALO for what it really is – a game. The whole underwater setting was really surreal – as always, I’m amazed at the sorts of things the tech in their world can replicate. I wonder how long it’ll take for our RL virtual science to develop to the point where we can go undersea diving online… the Oculus Rift is an up-and-coming system, but we’ve still got a long way to go xD
It’s a real shame they had to skip a lot of the dungeon exploration, especially as this is a brand-new, original story – there’s lots of wasted potential here, and it’s exasperating to know that it was abandoned for the sake of recap material. It was nice to see a boss monster (the Kraken) that was actually undefeatable for once – given the fate of many previous boss enemies, I almost expected Kirito to reveal some hax skill and destroy a monster no-one else had the ability to defeat. Glad to see that didn’t happen! And Yui managed to see her whale in the end. All’s good.
Looking Ahead – Sword Art Online II
So, about this second season. Firstly, I can’t say I’m surprised to hear of this. No matter what you think of SAO, you can’t deny that it’s a
cash cow popular series; this is something the producers are fully aware of. Sword Art Online II will cover the third arc, Phantom Bullet, which is set in the VRMMO Gun Gale Online – a sci-fi world very different to what we’ve seen so far in SAO and ALO. Not unlike how the female protagonist went from being Asuna in Aincrad to Lyfa in Fairy Dance, Kirito will be meeting a girl named Sinon, a veteran player who will introduce him to the world of GGO. I’m guessing this’ll be slated for either Spring or Summer 2014, and will most likely be one-cour given its length in the novels.
I can already envisage the haters. Popular opinion on SAO (at least amongst the Western fanbase) is mixed at best, and I’m pretty sure some people will be scandalised at what our Gary Stu gets up to in GGO. Even so, I’m looking forward to this – while it’s true that I prefer ALO’s fantasy setting over GGO’s sci-fi, almost western feel, we’re still in for an exciting ride. I also like Sinon as a heroine much better than I do Sugu, so that’s another plus – even more so now that her seiyuu has been revealed as Sawashiro Miyuki! If it’s any consolation to you haters, GGO is better than ALO was. Some people do hold this arc in very high regard.
You can read my LN review of Phantom Bullet here if you want a taste of what to expect. There are light spoilers, so be warned!