Sword Art Online is great because in the first episode we’re introduced to the main character. He’s wearing a blue jacket and has kawaii black hair. He walks around and then he fights mobs (that’s short for goblin) before meeting a new friend!
The light novel’s (upon which this anime is based) author took a look at .hack and said, “What if I made this good?” and so he did.
10,000 people get locked into a virtual game from which they can’t escape.
Sounds pretty cool, right?
The show delivers on its promises in spades. People die… a lot.
This isn’t .hack’s “lol people are temporarily in a coma” bullshit. People’s bodies are atrophying in a hospital bed somewhere and their brains get fried when they die in the game or any attempt is made to remove them from the game. Fuck yeah, consequences.
Kirito is a pathetic protagonist done right. He can’t trust others, most people he gets involved with die, and he’s filled with enough self-loathing to make Shinji blush. But he doesn’t (well, hasn’t) spent ridiculously long periods of time moping about. The people working on the show figured out that people don’t want to watch someone sit around and cry for an entire episode. Instead the show lets us know what he’s been up to.
For example, in episode 3 MC-kun’s love interest dies. After that, it cuts to a new scene with a little line of text at the bottom simply stating the date. Then a character comes along and says “I heard you’ve been training quite a bit recently.” If you’re not fucking stupid, you’d figure out that Kirito was so distraught at her death that he launched himself into a six-month long training regimen just so he could kill a boss to get a rare item that may resurrect her even though he knew he’d probably die doing so.
And it doesn’t end well, which is what I love about this show.
This is not a show for idiots, so if you got to episode 3 and didn’t understand what was going on, wait until you’re older to watch the show or kill yourself. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a shounen that doesn’t pander to the lowest common denominator and I’m fucking enjoying it.
Overall rating: +K+G