Rightstuf describes this movie:
The NerveGear, the world’s first dedicated full-dive device developed by the genius programmer, Akihiko Kayaba in 2022…a revolutionary machine that opened up infinite possibilities for the world of VR (Virtual Reality). 4 years later…. A next-generation, wearable multi-device called the Augma has been released to compete with the NerveGear’s successor, the Amusphere. A cutting-edge machine boasting the ability to enhance AR (Augmented Reality) to the maximum, the Augma offers a safe, user-friendly experience, as it can be used while the player is awake, making it an instant hit. Its most popular title is an ARMMORPG developed exclusively for the Augma, “Ordinal Scale (a.k.a. OS).”
Kirito is about to join Asuna and the others as an Ordinal Scale player, but they’re about to find out that it isn’t all fun and games…
WARNING: This review will have spoilers especially if you have not seen Sword Art Online seasons 1 and 2. For a spoiler-free review, click on the link here.
I want to personally thank Michael Kelly for donating at my Ko-fi on June 20th. Thank you Michael. If anyone wants a personal shout-out from me on my reviews or other projects, feel free to donate from my Ko-fi.
From 2017 to now: It’s a funny story (Story time)
Anyone remember 2017? Around this time, most fans were already finished with watching the second season of Sword Art Online season 2 and most of us were waiting on season 3 or also dubbed as Alicization. While the world was hyped for other media entertainment like the return of Samurai Jack or the grand finale of Wolverine’s movie, some of us wanted more adventures with Kirito and his friends. It was then announced by the team behind the anime and Aniplex that a movie was being made and will connect Sword Art Online season 2 and Alicization; that movie was called Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale. I was so excited to see this movie and I would do anything to see this movie with other fans. I even participated in a contest with anime Youtuber and blogger Shay from Anime Reviewer Girl.
Thank God I did because God gave me the chance to win two tickets. I was so excited that I even invited a friend who would later change my life. I took Allison with me; Allison was a colleague I knew back in my college life and we became friends around 2016-17. I was eager to take her to the movies and see this movie and I was almost heartbroken when I accidentally printed out my tickets very small. I thought I was going to miss out this experience, but one of the movie coworkers helped us and we got in. I am blessed that God was able to make this night happen, because I was able to watch a movie with other Sword Art Online fan. This movie was the first time I ever saw an anime in the theaters.
As time passed, I bought this movie in Blu-Ray when Rightstuf was doing the Christmas sales. I was happy to see the movie again in English Dub and hear Bryce Papenbrook voice Kirito and Cherami Leigh return as Asuna. Now in 2020, my friend, who is now my girlfriend and I watched this movie on June 15th and this movie still has its magic from 2017.
Please excuse me for this story moment of this review. In this review, I will share with you my thoughts and opinion after seeing this movie uncut and full spoilers. I am going to assume you seen this movie and the last seasons.
Story – A new gaming experience in AR
Taking place after the events of Sword Art Online season 2, a new device has been created and released for the citizens in Japan. This device is called the Augma and its purpose is to allow users to virtual reality and still be aware of physical surroundings. People with the device can exercise at home and pretend to ski down the slopes or even have virtual pets; think of Pokemon Go but without using phones. Also revealed is a new game called Ordinal Scale in which players with the Augma can participates in night events with others and fight bosses. Also making an appearance is virtual reality singer Yuna who has become a huge singing sensation in Japan and she even becomes the hosts of Ordinal Scale. The story begins with Kirito and his friends making use of the device and playing games. Ironically, Kirito has no enjoyment of the Augma and prefers the full experience of FullDive. Kirito’s friends and his girlfriend are enjoying this new device and even participates in the Ordinal Scale game. In one night, Kirito and his friends participates in an event with others and only to discover something odd about the bosses. While fighting, one of the bosses look awfully familiar and it appears to look like it’s from the original game Sword Art Online, the same game in which 10,000 players were trapped for two years. To make things much more odd is that a mysterious gamer who goes by Eiji has appeared in Ordinal Scale and is targeting SAO survivors. What was once a game is becoming a nightmare when some of these players are Sword Art Online survivors are losing their memories from getting defeated in Ordinal Scale. These memories are moments where these survivors remember their time trapped in Sword Art Online. When Kirito learns that Asuna got defeated and lost her memory of SAO because of Ordinal Scale, Kirito must go and win back her memories and learn the true purpose of Ordinal Scale.
Characters – Asuna steps forth and Kirito steps back! Ordinal Scale characters are introduced!
The Sword Art Online main cast which is mostly Kirito and his friends are back in this new gaming adventure. However, in this movie, the main character which is usually Kirito steps back most of the movie and the main focus is on his girlfriend Asuna. Asuna takes up some of the spotlight throughout the beginning and the half of the movie in the action. Introduced in this movie, we have three new characters which is Dr. Tetsuhiro Shigemura, Eiji Nochizawa and Yuna who would later be revealed as Dr. Shigemura’s deceased daughter. Dr. Shigemura is the creator of the Augma and he is a professor at Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the Toto Institute of Technology. He also established a laboratory and he was one of board members who help created Argus, the same company who created Sword Art Online. As a professor he had worked with many students and these students would be key characters in Sword Art Online such as Kayaba Akihiko, Suguo Noboyuki and Higa Takeru. Eiji Nochizawa is a gamer in which Kirito and his friends encounter while playing Ordinal Scale who incredible reflexes in combat, but he also also some secret vendetta against SAO players. It is later revealed that Eiji was in the same guild as Asuna in the Knights of the Blood Oath. Despite being in a powerful guild, Eiji was sadly looked down and not strong as the other members. Last but not least we have Yuna who becomes a vital character in this movie. In Ordinal Scale, she is singer who gives gamers points for winning boss fights and entertains her fans with music. It’s revealed that Yuna is actually a virtual reality ghost of Dr. Shigemura’s daughter. Yuna is actually Yuuna Shigemura and she was one of the thousands trapped in Sword Art Online. She played music in the streets for players and one day when she decided to go out in battle, she was killed. All three characters play a role in the movie as Kirito music face in order to understand Ordinal Scale.
Review: A full fun movie experience for Sword Art Online fans
After seeing this movie again, as a Sword Art Online fan, I will be addressing the high and low points of the movie. For the highs, I like the new direction where the focus of both Asuna and Kirito was shared. In the past seasons of the anime, Kirito was mostly the one getting the attention and the only time Asuna ever gets the spotlight is in the Mother Rosario’s arc in season 2. I like how the movie made Kirito a joke in the movie in which he gets teased for not being fit like Asuna and the others and he has an unimpressed attitude. If you are an Asuna fan, you are going to love how this movie remind us that Asuna is a force to be reckon with. Besides the spotlight aspect, this movie still reminds us that Kirito and Asuna are still the main focus. We get to see both characters have their romantic moments and how Kirito still loves and protects Asuna. The movie gets an upgrade in animation which everything looks bright and also a nice dark shade depending on day and night times. With the introduction of Yuna, we do get some new music in fight scenes. The voice of Yuna in English Dub Ryan Bartley, but the Japanese voice is Sayaka Kanda who not only provides the voice for her, but also sings the songs. I really like the songs Break Beat Bark!, Delete and Smile For you. Speaking of music, we have the return of singer LiSA and she brings in a new song for the movie called Catch the Moment. Overall, the visuals and music is just right and I can really enjoy what I am hearing and seeing. For pacing, this movie is about 2 hours long and takes it time without rushing. If you are a fan of this movie, you can sit back and enjoy it, but if you’re not, it’s not going to be fun. For the new characters, I thought they were interesting. I felt bad for Dr. Shigemura after losing his daughter, but I didn’t care about Eiji. Eiji loved Yuna, but with his actions from the movie, it showed he only cared about her and not much for anyone. His cold demeanor can make people dislike this character even if you learned his reasons. This movie has some interesting fanservice. For seriousness, this movie makes interesting call backs to past seasons such the movie’s final battle. In the final battle, Kirito and his friends enter Aincrad and face against the game’s final boss from Floor 100. During this fight, with the help of Yui, games from ALO and GGO help Kirito fight the final boss and Kirito and his friends have their full equipment from SAO. As a result of the restored upgrades, it is final battle with SAO, ALO, GGO and Ordinal Scale fighting the dark past of SAO. There is another fanservice moment in the movie that can be viewed good or bad. In the Blu-Ray disc version, fans are welcomed the chance to see Asuna partial uncut nudity in a bath scene. If you’re watching the movie via digital, it is going to be censored.
In the low points I seen in this movie, I can think of some that may turn off from the movie. Despite the movie promoting characters returning and getting action, we don’t see much of the other side characters. Kirito’s sister Suguha makes appearances in the movie, but she doesn’t get any action until the film’s final battle. Sinon gets a bit more action, but only through halfway of the film. Similar to Sinon and Suguha, Agil doesn’t get much attention either until the final battle. Like I mentioned, the movie is constantly focused on Kirito and Asuna. Some people has argued that this movie is predictable in plot. Most people already knew that Kirito would be the one to save the world and Asuna would become the damsel in distress and serve as the plot. Especially for Kirito in which I can understand. After seeing Asuna lose her memory of SAO, Kirito goes serious mode and tries to raise his rank by killing bosses in a short amount of time. Some would argue that Eiji would have been a great antagonist for Kirito and this movie, but he later gets scrapped after his loss and replaced with the final boss.
Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale is an action packed movie that is filled with 2 hours of action, drama filled with fanservice. If you enjoyed the anime series, this movie welcomes with open arms and gives fans everything they loved about Sword Art Online. Asuna fans can enjoy this movie and Kirito gives us the time to appreciate the others. The anime aesthetics is really beautiful with animation and music. This movie is not perfect and it has flaws like some characters not getting the full attention and some of the antagonists can be a let down. Other than that, this was a fun filler for anyone who was anticipating Alicization. I highly recommend staying after the credits for something interesting. A Sword Art Online movie is pure fanservice for the fans. What did you think about the film?