Sword Art Online II (2014)


Sword Art Online II (2014)

Director: Tomoiko Ito
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Starring: Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Haruka Tomatsu, Miyuki Sawashiro
Episodes: 24

A year after he cleared SAO, Kirito is hired to investigate rumors of a player killer in an MMO called Gun Gale Online who can kill players in the real world.

The second season of SAO divides the story into three arcs. The first arc is the primary focus with the second arc being little more than a short gaiden and the third arc falling somewhere in between. Overall, the second season feels a bit weaker than the first but not so much that it would drive away most people who have enjoyed the series up to this point. Still, depending on what you like and dislike about the series, the second season may be seen as either an improvement or a sign of things going downhill. I'll try to cover some of these points without rambling too much.

If you prefer the fantasy setting of SAO and ALO, the cyberpunk setting of GGO may not have that much appeal, but the second and third arc take place in ALO. Kirito and Asuna's relationship gets downplayed rather significantly, with Asuna being relegated to the sidelines throughout the first arc and having a small role in the second, only to become the focus of the third. While I liked the character of Sinon who takes the role of female lead in the first arc, it seemed like a waste to build up Kirito and Asuna so much only for it to fall to the wayside. Also, while I thought the handling of the subject matter in the third arc was fairly decent, not everyone agrees.

I didn't mention this in my review of the first season, but because it's arguably a bigger issue in the second season, I'll make mention of the "cameraman" being creepy at times. There are a number of angles and shots that are rather gratuitous. There's even a fan nickname for it.

I'll admit that the second season is a bit of a mixed bag. I still found it worth watching and will rate it accordingly, but it's balancing on the line. Fans will have reason enough to continue and detractors aren't likely to have their mind changed. Weigh the scales accordingly and make your choice.

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