Summer 2012 First Impressions – Sword Art Online

Let’s just say that since I’ve been waiting for this show for at least ten months, so you can tell that I pretty darn like the source material.

So does the first episode live up to my expectations, having read through the entirety of the first seven books of the light novel?

That would have to be quite a big yes.

Sword Art Online, the first and (IMO) best piece by writer Kawahara Reki (Accel World) who made his name by first publishing this online in the form of a web novel, is be no means a groundbreaking story. You have the overpowered shounen protagonist, the wallflower main female lead and the medieval swordfighting, among other things. But by god, even though you can see the plot coming from miles away and stereotypes are practically everywhere in this series, what caught me the most was how utterly efficient the execution was. It was just one hell of a ride from start to finish, and finishing the first novel just made me pick up the second. And the third. And so on.

One of the good things about this is that the story thus easily translates into an animated format, and it shows in the first episode. While slightly talky due to the need to explain the characters’ situation and set the scene before getting into the story proper, it’s punctuated properly by several small action scenes, giving the viewer something to look at while exposition happens. This should start to clear up by the next episode.

The animation by A-1 Pictures is stellar, with beautiful vistas proliferate throughout the show. However, there does seem to already be several off-form shots, even though this is the first episode.  This hopefully will not become a trend, but given A-1 Pictures’ track record, this might not be disappearing any time soon. I don’t mind much, though, with their amazing control of colour dominating any negative opinion I may have of them.

As for music, guess who’s in charge? Yuki Kajiura. A fitting musician for a story set in a post-modern medieval setting. While unintrusive overall, the final piece of the first episode really heightened the impact of the scene for me, raising a feeling in my chest that can only be described as unbridled excitement.

Sword Art Online’s first episode isn’t fantastic by any means, and for an introductory episode moves pretty much as all introductory episodes do. However, it does give a taste of what the rest of the show will be like – and that taste shows that that no matter what happens with the story, it’ll be gosh-darned pretty.

About Carillus

"Any sufficiently advanced application of locupletative language is indistinguishable from writing magic."
This entry was posted in First Impressions and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Summer 2012 First Impressions – Sword Art Online

  1. @fkeroge says:

    Don’t hold back on the praise, man. I know you loved it to death.

  2. hiroy_raind says:

    Good to know it’s good. Some of my friends that are huge fans of it has been spamming my Facebook and Twitter for months (and especially yesterday), I don’t think I can help but being extra judgmental with this.

    • Carillus says:

      Hype is usually a pretty good indication of good source material, but sometimes the adaptation fails. However, the format and style of the light novel translates quite easily to animation format (unlike exposition hell like, say, Index or Fate/Zero) with highly detailed actions taking up a good part of the writing, so the ratio of movement to talk is roughly proportionate. This should make this, at the very least, easy to sit through.

  3. foshizzel says:

    Hell ya! A-1 Pictures did a fantastic job creating some amazing looking scenery porn for us to enjoy just look at those backgrounds?! IT IS SO GOOD!

    I was really excited for this series because I like the Working!! Character designs and I do enjoy playing lots of MMO styled games, but it helps that Sword Art Online shares a lot in common with the .Hack\\SIGN series in terms of OH NOES! WERE TRAPPED IN A GAME! That and the fear of dying inside the game = death irl? At least the story set up in Sword Art Online sounds interesting and we got that time gap of two months at the end? DAMN! I need more.

  4. They are similar a virtual reality game. But sword art online was much more serious than accel world but still it’s both about virtual reality game.

  5. kakashi hatake says:

    I think that this animes great but its story is kinda confusing and accelerates like hell
    but still great anime can wait for episode 17 : )

Comments are closed.