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Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale Review
From the moment, I entered the movie theater—it was clear that Sword Art Online has a huge fan base! The line covered and wrapped around the hallway outside of the theater. The energy inside and outside the theater was astonishing. Seats were first come, first serve. And some just came too late. Roars erupted as the voice actors made their appearance. And applause as the film began.
A quick recap for those who are new to SAO, the animated series was about a mass incident that caused gamers to be stuck inside a virtual reality world. If they died inside the game, then they died in the real world as well. The protagonist Kazuto "Kirito" Kirigaya spearheads the charge in overcoming this obstacle while finding friends to help him on the way. The second series (Sword Art Online II) focused on "shooter-inspired" MMORPG called Gun Gale Online. In the game, a masked villain named "Death Gun" killed players in the real world by shooting their virtual avatars with a special gun.
Fast forward, Ordinal Scale takes place after those events and in the real world. The technology used is a headset which augments reality. The augmented reality (AR) device is called "Augma." The device differs greatly from the Nerve Gear virtual reality (VR) device. Without a full-dive function(the ability to be connected to the world itself), the players' actions are more taxing and physical. Even Kirito, hilariously comments on the "lag" he feels as he fights. Any who, another exciting factor is that the bosses from the original Sword Art Online (Aincrad) are back. Also, the players are all survivors from the original SAO. And the film's antagonist—Eiji—is an augmented reality master and former member of The Knights of The Blood Oath (SAO guild). The film does an excellent job at using the past and the series' continuity to its advantage.
Out with the old, in with the new! Well, such phrase doesn't bode well with Ordinal Scale as it reintroduces us to a lot of old favorites from: Sword Art Online, Alpheim Online, and Gun Gale Online. Asuna, Klein, Leifa, Silica, Lisbeth, Sinon, and the rest of the gang are all here along with their Japanese voice actors! Their quirks, whit, and personalities that we know them for all perfectly intact. And all the more loveable.
The adrenaline pumping, sweet harmonious songs are sung by one of the film's new characters, Yuna. She comes in with a mic and sings the battle music right when the battle starts! Also, the sound mixing in the film is superb. Sound effects are strong, clear, and vibrant. The clanging of swords on shields or blade against blade is satisfying and pleasing.
The action is the series' and film's highest selling point. Sword Art Online has always made teamwork the center of its combat but the film take it a step further. RPG roles and their use are more prominent. Like an actual MMORPG, tanks (block incoming attacks), healers (heal teammates), and DPS (take the offensive and kill monsters). When a teammate yells "switch!" another teammate comes in and attacks. Some characters are ranged and stay back and shoot from a distance. As a result, the battle scenes are brilliantly coordinated and electrifying!
The last Sword Art Online season ended years ago. But, for one night, I got to relive the excitement of one of my favorite anime. The animation is colorful, bright, and fluid. Kirito and the all of the gang get their shining moments. There are funny scenes that leave the audience laughing in an uproar. The fights are beautifully choreographed and animated. Augmented reality (and how it alters the real world) setting is different and refreshing. The only negatives in the film are the sweet but excessive Kirito x Asuna moments. Of course, the action had me and others on the edge of their seat. All in all, it is one of the best anime films I've seen to date. Ordinal Scale celebrates the series because it fills like the culmination of everything that has come before. The finale is breathtaking as it features all past worlds and characters come together. There's even a surprise for die-hard fans of the original 100 floor Aincrad! The series comes together for one last hoorah. And it's a success.
Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale was in theaters for one night only in America (March 9, 2017). The film was released in Japan on February 18th, 2017. The film is English subtitled.