Synopsis: In 2026 a new device named the Augma, has replaced the Amusphere. Doing away with the full-dive function, society is now moving into an “Augmented Reality” age. The biggest problem with full-dive is that you aren’t aware of your surroundings; but with this new technology, that is no longer an issue. Because Augmented Reality is just the overlaying of images onto the real world, it is perfect for daily uses like working out and advertising. Of course, along with a new console comes the release of their flagship game: Ordinal Scale. Now dubbed an ARMMORPG, Ordinal Scale again focuses on boss raids and hunting items, but this time with a ranking system.
Even with the release of AR and Ordinal Scale, Kirito still prefers the full-dive system. While everyone else is on-board with the new craze, he has been more reluctant to get involved. However, this all changes once rumors of old Aincrad floor bosses appearing in the game arise. A former member of Asuna’s guild, Eiji, is involved in a strange phenomenon that causes former SAO players to lose all memories related to Aincrad! It appears that the tragedy with Akihiko Kayaba and Sword Art Online is far from over.
Review: Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale was one of the most anticipated films of the year, especially for fans of the franchise. Unlike the previous stories though, this one is completely original. Having no source content to go off of, I think they did pretty well. This is likely due to the fact that Reki Kawahara, the original creator of Sword Art Online, again came up with this plotline himself. They managed to bring back some of the sense of urgency that was present at the beginning of the Aincrad arc but had then just disappeared. In addition, the pacing in this movie has been much improved over the jumps and skips of the TV show. Although in all fairness, that is to be expected when making a movie, versus a series.
The problem, however, lies in the fact that our characters are again unrealistically effected on a large scale because of a game. It is around halfway through the movie that we begin to figure out what is really going on. Eiji, our main antagonist, uses the confusion during battles to get up close to the former Sword Art Online players and touch them. Doing so allows him to scan their memories and remove the ones related to SAO. These memories are then sent to Yuna, a current AR Idol and former player who died in Aincrad. It turns out that her father plans to use these memories to recreate her conscience. While this type of far-fetched story is considered a staple of the series, it would be a nice change of pace for them to mix it up once in a while.
The new story is pretty average, and to go along with it are the pretty average new characters. With the exception of Yuna, who I personally like. Eiji and Doctor Shigemura have realistic and believable motivations, but they are still extremely bland and personally uninteresting. Eiji was originally a member of the K.o.B. guild but was afraid to take on the bosses and other monsters. He uses this as motivation to for some reason “get back” at those players who weren’t scared to do so. In bland terms, he feels sorry for himself so he blames others. You will almost feel for him at the end though when Doctor Shigemura says that he requires Eiji’s memories of Yuna as well. The only reason this is of any importance is because he was Yuna’s significant other in Aincrad before her death. As far as I am concerned in regards to the Doctor, he just seems obsessed with the idea of bringing his daughter back to life, at the expense of other’s lives.
The animation and art in Ordinal Scale were, in general, slightly better than that of its original TV series. The final battle, however, was absolutely fantastic. If I had to make an estimate, they spent half the total animation time on the last 15 minutes of the movie alone. While watching the movie it was like night and day distinguishing the difference in animation quality. What really makes this impressive is the fact that Sword Art Online generally had beautiful art, to begin with. Just the final boss fight alone makes this movie worth getting on Blu-ray for ANY fan of action, once it releases.
Probably the best part about this movie, even topping the animation, is the music and sound effects. Ordinal Scale included remixed versions of songs from the Aincrad arc, a new ending theme from LiSA titled “Catch the Moment,” and new original songs sung by the idol Yuna (voiced by Kanda Sayaka). Besides the amazing track list, the sound effects you get while watching at the theater, do an amazing job of complimenting the animation, especially during important fights.
Enjoyment was, of course, high, especially being a fan of Sword Art Online myself. Nostalgia was constantly popping up to remind us of the original series. The major focus of Kirito and Asuna’s relationship was great and reminded me of episodes 11-12 of the Aincrad Arc. The final boss was again incredible, and I liked how they included cameo’s of almost every character (including Yuuki) during it. Another interesting bit was coming up with the final boss itself, as most SAO fans might recall that Akihiko Kayaba was originally going to be waiting for players on floor 100.
Overall, it was an extremely exciting movie to watch, complete with great action, animation, and music. Every fan of the original series should have already seen it, but for those who haven’t, you are definitely missing out. If you are one of those haters of the series, this movie likely won’t change your mind. For those who haven’t seen Sword Art Online at all, I recommend watching the original Aincrad Arc while waiting for the movies’ Blu-ray release and then purchasing that.
New Characters: 8/10
Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale on MyAnimeList.