The second season of “Sword Art Online” is out, and they did the same thing on this approach as with the last version, and that is to have two full story arcs. The first 14 episodes, “Phantom Bullet”, have Kirito as a kind of cyber cop. There is a new VRMMMORPG called “Gun Gale Online”, a real shooter game. A character walks about named “Death Gun” who shoots another character and they disappear. It later turns out that the real-life person whose character was shot in the game is dead.
This happens two more times and people are scared that there is a way for your avatar to get shot in the game and that it kills the real you. Kirito is asked by Kikuoka Seijiro of the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ Virtual Division to investigate this. He dives back in and signs up to be in the Bullet of Bullets competition, where he proves himself to be very competent, despite using a light saber…..I mean, a Photon Sword. There is a real funny incident involving his character, but I’ll let you find that one yourself. Kirito is befriended by Sinon, a sniper person in the game, who has severe psychological problems outside the game (can’t reveal; plot point).
So our first segment details Kirito’s investigation into how Death Gun can really kill people. That segment was gripping and tense, a real cat-and-mouse approach to things, as we learn DG’s true identity. In this aspect, the show succeeds and is worthy of being SAO. It’s just the second arc, “Mother’s Rosario”, goes a bit flat.
It is now Asuna’s time to shine, but she has problems. Her mother feels that she is wasting too much time on a game that has already stolen two years of her life. She has to play massive amounts of catch-up with things, especially at a school that Mom feels is not meeting her educational needs, but Asuna still cannot abandon things so readily. She hears of a swordsman in the game, or, in this case, a swordswoman, Yuuki, who is phenomenal (that’s Asuna and Yuuki up there). Asuna is asked to partner up with her and the Sleeping Knights on a special quest. However, Asuna notices that Yuuki is rather distant when she asks to meet her in real life. Again, I cannot reveal details, as it is a critical plot point, but it will potentially have you sobbing at the end.
Yes, the second arc eventually leaves behind the battle sequences for things more emotional and, although I do not believe that all shows have to be “mow ‘em down and blow ‘em up”, I just felt a bit cheated by things. Even with these reservations, SAO II is still a good series, worth the time you invest into it. And enough is left to hint at a potential third season.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Good, solid approach, both characters and locations)
Plot 9/7 (Two stories, two ratings)
Pacing 8 (Good effort, even with the treacle)
Effectiveness 8 (Maintains its strengths)
Conclusion 6 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Overall 8 (A good understanding of the characters)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Time to log out.