Review: Sword Art Online II: Episodes 1 and 2

Review:

Okay, I know I usually do my reviews episode-by-episode, but at this point I’ve neglected to write my review of episodes one and two, and we are just a couple of days from episode three. To save the hassle of having two somewhat underwhelming reviews (especially in regards to episode one), I’m just going to combine the first two reviews into one.

The first thing you’re going to notice about this season is that it has a much slower pacing than the original. By the end of the first episode in the original series, we had the premise of the series laid out and the plot off to a running start. This time around, we have a much slower build. Sure, we have some semblance of an idea about what’s happening: players are being attacked within another game called Gun Gale Online (GGO) and are dying in real life. Kirito is asked to go into GGO and investigate. That’s kind of the premise, although besides setting this up via a meeting between Kirito and Kikuoka Seijiro, we don’t see much of it. Instead, we get a lot of Kirito and Asuna screen time, as well as some in-game scenes from GGO itself. Don’t misunderstand, though: there is enough information given for us to understand what type of game GGO is; in fact, the second episode all but takes place entirely inside the game.

Here may be where viewers first take issue with this season: Kirito, who we would assume to continue as the main character, actually takes a backseat in the second episode. Instead, this one focuses on a character named Sinon, a sniper within GGO. With the exception of a scene within Alfheim Online (ALO) near the end of the episode, the entire episode is about Sinon. I think it’s safe to say that she will have a major role to play within this season. If you’re willing to entertain some character introduction without Kirito’s involvement, though, I think you’ll find yourself enjoying the second outing from this season. There is plenty of action to be had as bullets fly between contending parties.

Whether season two will best season one or not is obviously yet to be seen. We can’t really make that kind of determination from two episodes. Season two is certainly off to a strong start, and it seems to be taking its time building its plot this time around. Granted, the suddenness of season one’s plot certainly worked for it–the reveal of the characters’ situation was just as stunning for the viewer as it was for the players! It may also help that at this point in the story the original novel writer had a few light novels under his belt, and was therefore maturing in his approach. If nothing else, season two seems to hold more hope for itself than the second half of season one, which seems to be where most people find their complaints (I say this, of course, solely based upon my own observations). I suspect that we will be facing a darker plot this time around, but only time will tell.

A Christian Perspective:

Well, I don’t really have any spiritual lessons that I’ve drawn from these episodes. Content wise, just know that there is violence. Of course, there was violence in the first series, so if you were okay with that then this shouldn’t be much different. There are more guns than swords right now, but the severity of the gore is the same, which is to say that it’s pretty much non-existent. If you play games like Call of Duty without any problem then you shouldn’t be bothered by the violence in GGO.

Content Guide:
Episode 1:

Language: 1 “h*ll” (although in context, I believe it was “No way in h*ll”)

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: The camera pans up from behind a female character dressed in short-shorts, which leads to a shot of her crotch (is there a nicer way of saying this?) and butt 21:11 – 21:16; Leafa is shown in the credits (her top shows cleavage)

Violence: Within a game, we see a character shoot a TV screen, and the character on the screen starts to hold his chest and gag before disappearing into fragments; a character in a game is shot; end credits show game characters being shot with guns and sliced with a sword

Blood/Gore: Characters are shown dissolving in fragments

Episode 2:

Language: 3 “d**n”, 1 “j**z”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Sinon’s top shows cleavage; a male character is checking out Sinon, and the camera zooms in to reflect this, focusing on her thighs and her cleavage (5:53 – 5:59); the camera zooms up on Sinon as she is lying down in her sniper pose, panning up her (clothed) backside, with a shot of her crotch (again) and butt (9:14 – 9:20); Leafa’s top shows cleavage

Violence: A character is shown shooting at a monster–the monster fires back at one point, and destroys a pillar, but is eventually destroyed and it turns into fragments; a character is shot in the head and disappears; a character opens fire on another character; characters are shown shooting at each other and being shot; when characters are shot, red spots appear on their bodies (presumably to represent blood) and the characters disappear when they die; gun fights and explosions continue on; a character has her leg blown off-in game (no blood or gore shown, just the usual red coloring); a character is shot in the head; characters are shown fighting a giant plant monster

Blood/Gore: See Violence

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