Final Score: 8.3
In this latest installment of Sword Art Online we find Kirito and friends enjoying everyday life. Recently a new system known as Augma has been released on the market and has become wide spread not only among the regular population but also SAO survivors (who were given free Augma headsets). Augma is a system that uses Augmented Reality as opposed to the Virtual Reality of the NerveGear and the Amusphere. The difference between the two devices is that VR requires you to be unconscious while with AR allows you to be conscious. The also marketed it without the ability to create the same problems that occurred with the NerveGear.
While Kirito has remained neutral to the Augma, all of his friends have been using and enjoying the new system. Popular at this time is an Augma game known as Ordinal Scale. Ordinal Scale uses the augmented reality to bring monsters to life and awards points that can be traded in for real life deals such as free drinks or even discounts on products. Kirito would be willing to live without Augma until he learns that bosses from Aincrad are being used for special events in Ordinal Scale. Things only get worse when a new type of trauma is inflicted upon SAO survivors.
When I first started to see promo pictures for Ordinal Scale I knew I’d want to see it. Despite the fact that I wasn’t a huge fan of the first season of the TV show I did thoroughly enjoy the second season and as a completionist was automatically interested in the film. But I didn’t know anything about the plot when I bought my tickets and I was vaguely aware that it was an original script penned by series creator Reki Kawahara when I went to see the movie last night. Basically I walked in blind with an open mind and trust me, it payed off.
Ordinal Scale is a great look into the characters’ lives that we don’t normally see. Most of the time SAO takes place inside VRMMORPG games, especially in season one. However with the introduction of augmented reality it allows us to see the characters we’ve gotten to know outside of VR. From seeing Silica sing in the middle of a mall to jokes about Kirito’s diet and lazy behavior, each new view made the characters feel more human, something I think is both greatly needed and appreciated.
The plot of the movie was also interesting. The Augma was touted as having none of the concerns that the NerveGear had when it was released but as we soon see this isn’t true. SAO survivors are being targeted and their memories of their time in Aincrad are being stolen. Some people view this as a blessing to SAO survivors who may have had a hard time while Kirito finds it appalling; while there were terrible times Kirito and his friends also made good memories in Aincrad and loosing those memories takes away from who they are.
The various ideas floating around in Ordinal Scale are worthy of deeper insight but now one I’m going to delve into for now (that would require seeing the movie again and lots of research on my part but if you’re interested I will oblige) but they go over facing your fear of death, letting one go, brushes the topic of letting a machine into your everyday life, as well as the moral ground of the NerveGear all over again. The amount of ideas floating around in the movie may be why it came off as a little slow. So much time was spent with Kirito refusing to even play Ordinal Scale and then even more time was spent with him attempting to find the purpose of the Aincrad bosses appearing in Ordinal Scale that it can be time consuming journey. Luckily the movie has enough interesting scenes to keep it going that you won’t notice how slow the movie for most of its run.
Not to mention you’ll have the wonderful graphics (I mean look at those Ordinal Scale designs! They’re all so cute) and a fantastic soundtrack. It was composed by Yuki Kajiura who worked on both seasons of the anime and has also worked on series such as Fate/Zero and Puella Magi Madoka Magica. On the vocal side of things we were graced with the return of LiSA, who performed themes for both seasons one and two of the TV show, and Sayako Kanda who has previously worked on My Love Story!! performing the theme song and this time around did a whopping five insert songs for the movie. While these songs weren’t always a huge focus they were all very interesting and made for good background music during some of the fights.
I think the best way to summarize this movie is actually found in a statement by Kirito’s voice actor Yoshitsugu Matsuoka in a clip played before Ordinal Scale. In this clip Matsuoka described the movie as a culmination of all things SAO has done up until this point and after seeing the film, I couldn’t agree more. There are cameos from all parts of SAO’s fifty episode run from ALO’s faction leaders to Sinon’s friends in GGO and even members of the Sleeping Knights appear. All in all Sword Art Online the Movie: Ordinal Scale is a fantastic mix between new and old and a part of the franchise fans shouldn’t miss and newcomers will enjoy.
Man there are quite a few scenes in this movie I really want to discuss but I don’t want to spoil any of the awesomeness. Even if it was a slow build, it was still an incredibly enjoyable movie that shouldn’t be missed by fans of Sword Art Online. Plus I can say that even those who haven’t seen SAO or much can enjoy it as a friend of mine who had only seen the first few episodes came and still enjoyed the movie and the impact the story had. I also can’t wait until it’s out on DVD and we can check out the dub. Bryce Papenbrook is going to have one heck of a role to play this time around. Also you’ll forgive me if I didn’t go into every single detail of this movie. There’s a lot of information thrown at you early in the movie that is hard to cover when making a simple overview of the movie. Still this is definitely a must see overall!