The Pilot to “Sword Art Online” is good at capturing the process of an MMORPG and the negative and positive social aspects of it, and it does a really good job, even though we only really meet 3 characters who get air time. For the start of a Pilot I found it really enjoyable and the animation is stunning.
The Pilot begins with the release of Sword Art Online and the players entering into the game via NerveGear as the players enter the virtual world of Aincrad. It begins with Kirito helping out a noob named Klein but as he is about to leave he finds himself in the game before long what they physically look likes overtakes their Avatars and Kayaba lets them know they are trapped and could die in the game if they do not win it.
The Pros: The Premise – The idea of being trapped in a game and having to fight to get out is really awesome. Basically making a virtual world real life is a fantastic premise that has unlimited possibilities only limited by the imagination of the author. This is the art of story.
The Animation – The animation is beautiful. It is dark and colorful and also really light making it feel like a game that anyone would want to play, with Kayaba being shown in dark robes and faceless.
The Soundtrack – Kaijura Yuki did an amazing job on this! It has gaming elements in the theme as well as a soundtrack that would fit in any Medieval Sci. Fi. Suffice to say I really enjoy it so far.
Aincrad – Aincrad is a collection of levels and cities with the highest level being the God Realm from the looks of it when Kayaba presented it. It is a cool world with Medieval and modern looks intermixed and the animals are alien colors.
Kayaba – Kayaba is a meglomaniac. He created “Sword Art Online” so he’d have a world within his control that he fully controlled. He is the God of the world and a horrible one at that. I really like this guy as an antagonist.
Kirito – Kirito is a loner who enjoys escaping to “The only reality that matters.” It takes being trapped in that world to remind him that his sister and mother matter. It’s kind of sad but it is real to his character and it gives him a motivation to get out of the game.
Klein – Klein is a bit of a bro and a good guy who compliments Kirito when his Avatar becomes himself and shows that he values what he learns from others. He also cares deeply for his friends and goes back to the Square to get them after Kayaba’s announcement.
The Cons; Faceless Unknowns – A bunch of people are in the square but I can’t remember any of them. None of them stood out as distinct even though there were some younger people, parents, a couple and others…but they were just kind of there.
For a Pilot it is really solid, the animation, the world and the two core characteres as well as the premise make me want to see how this series ends. I’m glad I got to watch it with a fellow gamer too and as someone who has always had a soft spot for Fantasy MMORPGs, this one feels real.
Final Score: 9 / 10. Solidly great.