“Sword Art Online” has been one of the more interesting series (and now franchises) of the past half-dozen years. As with any movie that comes from a successful series, I am leery that it might be just might be a recap of the series, put in movie form, for those folks who are too lazy to plunk themselves down and watch the whole thing, from a company that wants to make some quick money. Yes, they did do that in 2013, calling it the “Extra Edition”, so I was a little more assured that this one would be a real movie and not just a Season Two Recap. This brings us to “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale”. Now, it would help to understand what an ‘ordinal scale’ is.
There are four types of measurement scales: nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio. (Takes notes, this will be on the test.) What ordinal rates is non-numeric concepts, like happiness, but it can’t differentiate between them. We know #1 is better than #2, but we don’t know and cannot quantify how much better. How big is that gap? One? One hundred? One thousand? This plays a very important role in the movie.
It is now the year 2026. Still no hoverboards. A new approach to gaming is released, the Augma. Its key difference between itself and FullDive (which caused all the mayhem in the first SAO season) is that it simulates reality while the wearer is fully conscious, so they can react in real time to events presented before them. The best of these games is “Ordinal Scale”.
Asuna, Lisbeth and Silica encourage Kirito to play the game, after hearing that Aincrad bosses have appeared in the game play. Kirito joins Asuna and Klein in a boss fight where the game’s mascot, AI idol singer Yuna, appears, and gives players buff special effects as she sings. Kirito fails to achieve anything, as he is still badly out of shape physically (it’s called 24-Hour Fitness for a reason!) He’s not doing his exercises, so he is physically weak and almost newbie slow. Eiji, the number two ranked player, aides the group in defeating the boss. Before Asuna makes the killing blow, Eiji whispers the word “Switch,” a game mechanic from SAO that she recognizes.
While the others go on another flash mob battle (for wont of a better term), Kirito passes on it all. He realizes his limitations, but things go badly for the group in general. The next day, while Kirito is practicing with OS, a strange girl in a white hood makes an appearance, points in a direction and leaves, as a puzzled Kirito is left at sea.
In speaking with his handlers, Kirito learns that there is something afoot, something sinister, and is asked to really investigate Ordinal Scale. Then comes the scary action: that Asuna is missing memories of her time in SAO. In fact, a lot of SAO players doing OS are losing their memories. It is up to Kirito to get to the bottom of all of this and makes things right.
Personally, if I had survived SAO, I would be incredibly leery and reluctant to ever dive back into things again, yet these folks cannot let it go. Do you have a death wish? Do you own “Death Wish”? Will you see the remake of “Death Wish” with Bruce Willis? It came and went? Well……. It’s just that for “Ordinal”, we had about two-thirds of a good movie, and then it fell into well-worn traps and tropes. And the final Final, Final Boss Battle battle was more set up along the lines of ‘the gang’s all here’, so we could have one rousing conclusion and put this all to bed once and for all.
It felt like things were being done to show it could be done without any real motive for it. Yes, there is a caliber of motive and we have the Countdown to Destruction going on, but I felt there could have been a better degree of tension throughout the show. It just when Kirito and Asuna show up, there are no fears or worries, as they will find some way to make it right. The movie may be a victim of its own successes and lacked the real punch it was looking for. Still, even a weakened SAO can be more entertaining than a ton of new shows that really miss the mark.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Strong and solid)
Plot 7 (Rather typical, even with the twist)
Pacing 7 (The ‘slow’ parts seem almost turgid)
Effectiveness 7 (The motivation seems a bit sketchy)
Conclusion 5 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan)
Overall 7 (Good story not fully realized)