Originally posted June 24, 2014
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Concluding my reviews for the four parts of Sword Art Online, the final part of this series was the icing on the cake for me – both in good ways and bad. Whilst the first half of this series was emotional and charming, the second half was dark and intimidating. I spent most of my time feeling genuinely concerned for Asuna’s well-being and I was worried about exactly how far the writers were going to take her predicament with Oberon/Sugo – especially as I knew they were willing to show Suguha nude back in Part 3. My worst fears were realised in the second to last episode – lets just say things happen between Asuna and Sugo that I hoped wouldn’t, and Kirito is forced to watch. (Keep in mind though, this series is still perfectly suitable for 15-year-olds to watch.) As hard as it is though, I prefer to forget the bad moments and focus on the good, because overall there are some absolutely charming and loveable moments throughout the series, and the best are shown in the last episode. After everything that Asuna and Kirito have been through it just makes the ending to their ordeals feel so satisfying and what’s shown of their lives afterwards feels just exactly right. There’s also the re-emergence of forgotten characters, the strengthened relationship between Kirito and his sister/cousin, and the villain is punished in the most fitting way imaginable – after all the sick, despicable things he did I was hoping for a manslaughter. Overall, Sword Art Online is one if not the most thrilling anime series I’ve ever had the pleasure of buying on Amazon. It’s a creative and ingenious story, which deploys many genres, allowing it to be loveable, charming, dark, intimidating, funny and passionate all at the same time. I agree with some critics that it has “pacing problems” and there are some moments that feel too unbearable to watch. But whether you watch the series as a whole or in two separate parts, both halves “are enjoyable for what they are.” It will definitely satisfy any gaming or anime fan. And for those who aren’t fans of one or the other, they will definitely be hooked after watching this series. But more than just being a promotional tool, Sword Art Online is a true masterpiece of writing and animation. And if it is true that they’re making more episodes in Japan right now, I pray to god that they’re released on DVD and Blu-ray in Europe, so the excitement can continue. Given the fact that I don’t usually give any reviews for the DVDs I get off of Amazon, it should give you some idea of exactly the kind of impact this series has had on my life.
Sword Art Online Part 4 was my second attempt at being more descriptive with my reviews. This time I felt I did a much better job.
I really wanted this review to be special, since it was the final part of Sword Art Online and I’d been saving my most passionate comments for last. It was also a chance to give my opinion on the series overall instead of just one individual part.
Unlike Part 3, I spent more time focusing on the volume’s different elements, explaining how they made me feel and why. I also noted some of my personal favourite things about Part 4, such as the climax, character relationships and (especially) the ending. I honestly didn’t enjoy parts 3 and 4 as much as I did the first two. But the last couple of episodes were the highlight of Sword Art Online for me – and I wanted to make that clear in the review.
It was around this time, too, I started being more conscious about the amount of information I gave away. I do talk about what happens in the final episodes, but I hold back on specific details, so there aren’t any major spoilers and the reader is still interested – and curious enough – to want to watch the series for themselves. Additionally, this was the first review where I made personal comments and explained who I’d recommend the anime to.
Looking back on it, there are some changes I’d make if I wrote this review today. I wouldn’t mention the ‘promotional tool’ part or quote someone else’s review (without saying where it came from). Plus, I’d bring up a lot more things: the magna series Sword Art Online is based on, the DVD extras, the music, Sword Art Offline and the Extra Edition special which hasn’t been released on DVD (in English). There’d also be smaller things I’d mention, like how hard it is to accept Liz and Silica as main characters when they each only had one major episode in the series.
Overall, I feel I wrote this review much clearer than Part 3. It may’ve been better with a series brief. But in this case, I don’t think one was necessary – nobody would buy the final part of something if they didn’t already know the story.
Let me know what you thought of this review in the comments below. Also, see my reviews of Sword Art Online Parts 1, 2, and 3.
(Image courtesy of http://www.mcmbuzz.com/2014/03/31/sword-art-online-part-four-dvd-review/)