What They Say:
This may be a game, but it’s not something you play.
The world’s first VRMMORPG (Sword Art Online) became a game of death. Over a month has passed since 10,000 users were trapped inside the game world. Asuna, who cleared the first floor of the floating iron castle of Aincrad, joined up with Kirito and continued her journey to reach the top floor. With the support of female Information Broker Argo, clearing the floors seemed to be progressing smoothly, but…
Conflict erupts between two major guilds who should be working together – the top player groups ALS (the Aincrad Liberation Squad) and DKB (the Dragon Knights Brigade). And meanwhile, behind the scenes exists a mysterious figure pulling the strings….
In a dangerous battle of death, there is an assault that differs from the threat, and it will involve Asuna and Kirito…!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Sword Art Online is on its 10th anniversary. To celebrate, they are producing animated, works that sync with their Sword Art Online Progressive light novel series. In the light novel series, we see players go through Aincrad level by level instead of it being summarized throughout the books. Now, this is great for fans of the series. Is it great for the general audience? Yes, with a lot of caveats.
Sword Art Online The Movie – Progressive- Scherzo of Deep Night starts on the fifth floor with Kirito, Asuna, and the guilds, trying to work the way up to the hundredth floor to beat the final boss, and eventually get everyone the ability to log out of the world. Knowing that people will now die in the series and knowing that the consequences are brutal, Kirito and Asuna need to work for with their team and the friendships they built to get through to the next level. Meanwhile, there is a lingering threat of those who want to kill players just for the fun of it, player killers. Asuna and Kirito have to manage multiple external threats.
Everything in this movie is typical for Sword Art Online. The music is pretty good and interesting the same as what you would have seen from the previous series, especially the first season. The animation quality is still pretty impeccable and overall dubbing and scripted. Everything is typical SAO. In fact, the action is a prime example of getting to the point of it being typical SAO. Kirito and Asuna get to use their skills to take down opponents. While there are normal, typical scenes, one interesting aspect is the duels that you’ll see between Asuna and her opponents. Even though they’re not high stakes, there’s still interesting to see with its visual presentation.
Arguably the best part about this movie is more character development towards Asuna. She gets to demonstrate the care that she has for her friends as well as her own skills as a player. Barring what happens in the first (and last) 10 to 20 minutes, we really see Asuna can hold her own and can really be a force of her own. It’s great because, for those who have seen this series or read the light novels, Asuna does not necessarily get that luxury throughout the earlier parts of the series. However, for those coming in, it’s very cool to see her take down opponents and actually be just as good as Kirito.
The problem throughout the movie is apparent if you’ve already seen or read the series. While the retread is nice, the stakes are lower given what you know will happen. You know what to expect for these floors as well as the foreshadowing of player killers. For those who have not watched it is a bit more intense hoping that everything will go well. That’s with the caveat of not coming to the series cold. If you come to the movie cold it can be discombobulating.
To be honest, Sword Art Online The Movie – Progressive- Scherzo of Deep Night does not move the needle at all for those who are even slightly curious about the television series or the light novels. Yes, the dub is as good as it’s been. Yes, the visual production is as good as it seems. It produces a lot of fan service for long-time viewers with the action among others. It’s not enough to entertain those who have at best a half-curious thought about Sword Art Online. If you are a hardcore SAO fan, this movie may be entertaining enough to sit through and watch. However, for the rest of us, including the casual SAO fans, it’s worth a pause until this comes out for rental or streaming.