Being a fan of the Dot Hack Franchise since 2003 I have always seen Sword Art Online as a cheap knock off of that series. I never got a chance to read the light novels but the anime adaptation wasn’t really interesting outside of a few episodes. That was at least for the first season. Thankfully the second season of SAO at least in my opinion improved most of what I didn’t like about the first, that being the lack of originality.
The movie Sword Art Online Ordinal Scale does a great job of what I feared in most anime movie adaptations. That being it gives a brief synopsis of what happened in the series so that the audience has somewhat of an idea as to what is going on. The character’s motivations feel genuine and most importantly the movie does a good job of making them relate-able despite the sci-fi quasi futuristic setting. A girl named Asuna who has lived in the city most of her life has never seen the clear skies at night and wishes to see a shooting star one day with her Boyfriend Kirito. Kirito Wishes to oblige her so we see in the opening scene these 2 characters in a virtual world looking up at an artificial sky that serves as the driving point of the these 2 characters as they both wish for the others well being and happiness. However unknown to them a new terror is planning to rear its ugly head. The father of a girl whose mind was destroyed as a result of the game sword art online is trying to revive her consciousness by stealing the fragments of memory of people who knew her, this will allow him to in theory revive his daughter. I know it seems ridiculous but it’s the type of schlock that keeps this franchise afloat. I thought the villain was kind of weak, so to was his reveal they practically announced to the world he was the villain by the way they introduced him all mysterious and covered in shadow. If there is one thing that Sword Art Online does well it’s character motivations, if there is one thing it does not do well it is exposition and execution. Toward the end of the movie the father of the dead girl is willing to kill his own living breathing son just to get a nugget of data from his mind to recreate a non tangible artificial intelligence of his daughter. This came completely out of left field as we never saw a reason for the father to dislike his son only that he is so desperate to revive his daughter that he’d kill anyone just to see her again. It would have been nice to see at least a couple moments of the son and father arguing to show that they didn’t get along very well, but no instead he just attempts to murder his own flesh and blood at the drop of a hat. Moments like these are what make me question the writer’s understanding of what makes a good villain. In the first season of the show the main bad guy was built up to be some sort of criminal mastermind, but he’s later revealed to be some loser with a fetish for 15 year old girls who then over the course of less than a year looses his sanity and attempts to murder Kirito for taking away his waifu. The second season improved upon this a little bit the motivation of the bad guys weren’t that clear but at least they were tactical geniuses and level headed not egotistical maniacs. Here this guys tries to murder his son because doing so might give him the slightest chance to be able to see his daughter again. Fuck that. Anyway towards the end of the film we are treated to an epic final boss encounter where all the heroes team up and use their skills to defeat the god monster by uniting their powers and discovering the true power of friendship. The movie also tries to talk about the value of the human soul but it doesn’t beat you over the head with it, finally some subtlety. At the end Kirito takes Asuna to see a starry night and he announces his love to her as the stars fall shining their light on these two. When all’s said and done I can definitely recommend this movie to fans of sci-fi and anime in general. I also like that not everything is done using CGI. CGI is used sparingly but most of the animation is hand drawn and it looks great. The movie does a good enough job of describing the events of the series to the point where you don’t have to watch the show and even if you think the plot is ridiculous and the villain was over the top it’s still a fun popcorn flick with lots of action and well animated fight scenes.