I didn’t like Sword Art Online season one. Oh the first half was decent, nothing deplorable but nothing too terrible, but that second half, man oh man was that reprehensible. It took the ignorable subtext of Kirito being the best person on the planet in the history of ever, and the slightly climbing levels of harem crap to maximum level. In the end this created one of the most painful, entertaining, awful, and completely misogynist things I’ve ever had the pain/pleasure of sitting through; so going into a second season my expectations were extremely low. I thought it would be awful, completely and utterly morally repugnant, and just in general as bad as the second half of the first season. What I got instead was a surprise. Not necessarily a good one, but a surprise nonetheless.
So what’s happening in the world of SAO? Well it’s been almost a year since Sword Art Online was shut down, and Asuna and Kirito are just as peachy as ever! However, one day perfect and amazing Kirito gets called in by Government Agent dude, who’s name I can’t remember, because there’s a problem in a new VRMMO that only perfect and amazing Kirito can solve. Yes there have been more deaths in the real world coinciding with deaths in the virtual one, this time occurring in the smash hit VRMMO Gun Gale Online, or GGO for short. The government suspects that this user called Death Gun has been causing these problems and Kirito excepts the job, for pay of course. Kirito’s worried though, because GGO is filled to the brim with professional players who sit on their butts playing the game all day to earn cash. And this worries him why???
Never mind the fact he is the one of the greatest VRMMO players in the world and shouldn’t be afraid of professional players, never mind the fact that VRMMO’s should be shut down since they’ve been causing so many real world deaths, and never mind the fact that the previous season was entertaining because this first episode was terribly bland. Seriously, out of all the things I don’t expect from an episode of Sword Art Online it’s definitely got to be bland, dialogue heavy boredom. This whole episode is entirely set-up and seemingly never ending exposition about the GGO mystery. It also contains a mind numbingly paint by numbers cutesy conversation between Asuna and Kirito.
This is probably the only point where you can find anything offensive in this entire episode, which is something I really wasn’t expecting to say. Said offensive thing is Asuna’s character, which at this point is still fully in perfect waifu who will stay with you forever territory. She’s barely even an iota of what she was in the beginning of SAO, and seeing her this docile and uninteresting is a sad sight to say the least. Otherwise the rest of the episode is strangely inoffensive, mostly it just makes callbacks to the first half of season one.
In terms of production values, pretty much nothing has changed. It’s still has that A1 Pictures quality animation the first season had, and the only main difference you could make out is probably the slightly darker color palette, which I assume is supposed to suggest this season is going to be dark in tone. Sadly from what I heard in this episode Yuki Kajiura did not return to compose the score, but that doesn’t really matter since this was a first episode and those tend to be light in the music section anyways.
In the end though I was surprisingly bored by this first episode of Sword Art Online II, which was the complete opposite of what I expected. This was more like a 23 minute trailer than anything else, a boring piece of filler and exposition meant to continue the hype for the inevitable terror that awaits within GGO. However from the two scenes we get of GGO’s game world I foresee a lot more interesting and awful things in future episodes. From what I can tell there will plenty of gun fetishism, and butt shots provided by our new harem member, I mean female character, once we enter GGO. Kirito’s new androgynous character design also suggests the amplifying of the creepy subtext of both wanting to be Kirito, and wanting to make love to Kirito that plagues SAO in general. So yeah unless you liked the first season, don’t touch this bland pile of mediocrity. Unless you’re a weirdo like me who likes watching things like this for analysis, in which case welcome to the party! I only hope it gets worse from here, and doesn’t remain this strangely uninteresting.