SAO fans will be thrilled by this latest episode of Reki Kawahara’s bestseller. But those new to the story might find Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale too implausible.
Like many popular Anime, the story of Sword Art Online can be appreciated on two levels. Beneath the swashbuckling tales of survival in ultra-realistic Virtual Reality (VR) worlds, SAO examines the human necessity for fantasy. Be it as escape, release or catharsis, the characters of SAO depend on their virtual personae to come to terms with the frustrations of their real lives. In several cases, they become so dependent, they opt to forsake reality altogether. The resulting catastrophes then form the backbone of the various story arcs.
Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale continues this discussion, albeit from a different direction. In stark contrast to protagonists like Asuna who continues to cherish memories of the virtual worlds, there is now a survivor so disgusted by his time in Aincrad, he seeks to eradicate all memory of it. This makes for an intriguing story twist, and would have worked quite well, had the execution been less flimsy. Instead of VR, Augmented Reality (AR) is the central tech in this movie. While this reflects real-world tech developments, it’s just very hard to comprehend how AR works in the movie. How on earth do Kirito and others accomplish the same stunts and techniques they use in the virtual world with their real bodies? Would any government actually sanction such dangerous gameplay, given what happened in the early stories?
Make belief or not, I think the problem with Ordinal Scale is that it trod a little too far from plausibility.
Animation wise, the movie is top notch. Though I personally found none of the action sequences particularly memorable. (I didn’t experience the sort of euphoria I had when watching Asuna’s first fight with Yuuki) In summary, Ordinal Scale is best enjoyed by fans already familiar with SAO. The movie takes exceeding efforts to feature as many characters as possible from the previous story arcs. For those fresh to SAO, the story might just be a little too bewildering. In many parts, too unbelievable and contradictory too.
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