In the world of anime, Sword Art Online is a somewhat dividing topic. Some people love it and others cannot seem to stop bashing it. I stand in the middle. SAO stands in my top ten anime of all time because it does a lot of things well, but it also fails in a lot of ways as well. I suppose fans of the series and haters of the series were looking for something to latch onto. Something that would make them say “SAO really is a great anime”, and with this film, I believe we got that.
Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale is the first film made for the franchise and the first time these characters have hit the silver screen across the globe. The hype leading up to the film’s release was unparalleled. The community was really looking forward to the film due to the fact that it looked so damn beautiful. Ordinal Scale takes place after the events of Sword Art Online 2. As always, the looming shadow of the death game in Aincrad is of vital importance in the movie. Kirito and the gang have moved on to a new VR game called Ordinal Scale, which is played through brand new gear called the ‘Augma’. Shifting everyday life into virtual fun.
Right from the first scene, you could tell how serious they were about making this film even more beautiful than the anime. The layouts looked brighter, the characters were able to exert a wider range of emotion and action. For me, as a fan of the series, I was really happy to see how well the art and animation was displayed. Throughout the film, all of our favorites characters appeared and had some role, whether it big or small, in Ordinal Scale. But the core group was still intact: Kirito, Asuna, Lisbeth, Silica, Agil, Yui, Sinon, Leafa, and Klien.
Something that Ordinal Scale did really well were the fight scenes and the music for the film. Never did I think that they could outshine the action from the first two seasons of SAO, but I was blown away. Since this was an actual movie, the developers had a lot more wiggle room, more freedom in what they could do as far as animation. The attention to detail was stunning, and it gave me that feeling that I had when I watched SAO for the first time all those years ago. The score for this film was fantastic as well, something that SAO is famous for in fact. Each scene really kept you watching and engaged because of the music carrying the characters through them. One of the main characters, Luna, was a VR Japanese idol singer exclusive to Ordinal Scale. Whenever a raid boss would appear or a fight scene was about to happen, it was her that was singing. Her voice was beautiful. There were also some ‘fan service’ moments that I think 99% of the community will love.
Without giving too much away, I want to talk about the plot of this edition of SAO. Many people died while in the death game called Sword Art Online, and that plot point is still very important in this film. The main antagonist is looking to bring someone he lost in the game back to life, in the form of a virtual being. In order to do that he needs the memories of all the SAO survivors in order to bring her back. Eiji, the main antagonist, works together with an unknown source to achieve his goal. With him being the number one ranked player in Ordinal Scale, it’s almost impossible for any of the characters to hold their own against him. It’s not until Asuna is attacked that Kirito finally realizes what he needs to do.
Another good thing about this film is that they didn’t make Kirito overpowered like they always did in the anime. It was so good to see him lagging behind because he wasn’t skilled in Ordinal Scale right away. In fact, he got his butt kicked a lot during the movie. I’m sure viewers will be happy to see other characters get the spotlight for once, which was one of the main complaints fans had for the anime.
Overall, Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale was a well put together film. From the animation to the music, everything felt familiar but new at the same time. While the main story could have been deeper and fell short at times, I think fans will enjoy the romance, action, music, animation and the nostalgia that comes with seeing all of your favorite characters on screen being badasses. For people just now getting into the series or are looking for a reason to get into anime, I highly recommend watching this film and then going back and viewing the anime. I promise you won’t regret it.
Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale is now available to stream online and buy on DVD and Blu-Ray.