Welcome to the Japandaman Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale movie review. If you’re wondering why I’m announcing the review in this manner, something I’ve never done before, it’s because this is a special joint review which is also a first for Japandaman.com. The film will be reviewed by Japandaman and our latest team member, anime writer Farrah!
Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale continues a couple of years later where the series left off. Kirito, Asuna and the rest of the SAO crew have adjusted to life in the real world and are involved in a new AR game called Ordinal Scale. OS used a new head-gear called The Augma. The game is the successor to the Amusphere technology used previously which allowed the players to immerse themselves into a virtual world. The new technology places the virtual world I to the real world allowing them to remain conscious and aware of everything that’s going in.
Kirito isn’t keen to take part in the game preferring the VR world of ALO to Ordinal Scale and the AR environment. It isn’t long before bosses from Aincrad begin to show up in OS, which prompts Kirito to join in the game. It’s during this time, Asuna meets the number two ranked player in the game, Eiji. Kirito has a hard time adjusting to the game as he lacks the real world fitness and stamina for the game. Adding to the mix is a virtual idol called Yuna who shows up at random battles to give the players bonuses through her songs.
Kirito also begins to see a mysterious white hooded girl who tries to communicate with him but always disappears before he can talk to her. He begins to think she plays a bigger part in what starts to happen in the AR world. After a series of Aincrad boss battles, Asuna realizes that she’s beginning to lose her memories from her SAO days as do other players who survived SAO. Kirito begins to investigate OS to help Asuna and the other players but is in a race against the clock before all the players end up losing their lives in the new AR world.
Ok, so hopefully I haven’t given away any spoilers with that little synopsis as this is one movie that carries itself so well, never taking itself too serious and has a nice balanced blend of drama, action, comedy and relationship issues. One part I always look at with anime is the animation itself and Ordinal Scale does not disappoint one little bit. The characters, the environments, the enemies and giant bosses are all beautifully drawn, move effortlessly and very smoothly. It’s definitely stepped up a notch from the SAO series without going over the top and relying too much on 3D CGI.
The musical score is what you’d expect and also has some nice tracks from the series thrown in, more so notable during the massive end battle scene and that’s all I’m saying on that with no spoilers! The music provided by Yuna, the virtual idol is spot on and what you hear these days from vocaloids minus the computer generated voices, the vocals are provided by Sayaka Kanda, an established singer in Japan.
Where this movie gets MASSIVE kudos is from the story itself which is stunningly well crafted and doesn’t let down in any area. All the major players get a reasonable amount of screen time, story and character development. Just when you think you know all of them from the series, the movie continues to develop them even further instead of just using what was established in SAO. It was very interesting to see to be honest and something I wasn’t expecting. Kirito and Asuna’s relationship continues to develop and I’m a sucker for it and for them. They’re easily my favourite anime couple and I just love the way they love and care for each other. There’s some realy cute and awkward moments between them with even a little fan service thrown in for good measure. Their “daughter” Yui is also behind some light hearted banter and heart warming moments. It’s easy to forget with everything that’s going on in the movie with the drama and action pieces that nestled amongst all that is a love story, just as it was in the series but the way it’s told isn’t sappy like most love stories. Kirito and Asuna have an amazing chemistry and the writers have done an outstanding job of making you really give a damn about them and what happens.
I will add this next comment with a slight spoiler alert and just say that the climactic battle scene at the end should have both fanboys and fangirls squirming with delight in their seats. I’m not ashamed to say that I was fanboying something chronic and so hard and the audience in the theatre were losing it as well. Oh and don’t leave when the movie ends because just like Marvel films, there’s a post credits sequence and let’s just say, you’ll be glad you stayed.
I’ve been yammering for the past four paragraphs about what I loved about the Ordinal Scale, let me dedicate some time to what I didn’t like about is.
That empty space above is where my dislikes should be and yes, it’s empty on purpose. There was nothing I didn’t like about this film, it met and exceeded my expectations in a way that I wasn’t expecting. I was really, really worried that the film would be a let down and a bit of a cash in on the huge popularity of SAO but I was wrong. The writers and production team have put as much, if not more, work and love into this outing. And I’m going on record saying that I loved it as much as Makoto Shinkai’s brilliance, Your Name. Highly recommended and will warrant repeated viewings. So good.
Final Score: 10/10
Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale is perfect!
There, that’s my review. Nothing more needs to be said.
Of course that wouldn’t be professional on my part to just give you a one-line review so let me continue.
The film is a brilliant way to say to fans ‘SAO fandom we are back!’ This film manages to capture the original story and give it a whole new spin and a new life to the series. We are reunited with our favourite characters from the series who are now a little bit older, a little bit wiser. We see the series leads in an emotional yet adventure filled story that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the whole movie. I don’t want to go into too much detail of the plot as Japandaman has done so already so I might just briefly mention the things that just stood out to me in this film.
I have never fan-girled so hard in my life until I saw this film. Being able to see those characters again after all these years of waiting for a new story has been the gift we desperately needed as fans. I loved that we got to see another side of our favourite characters and particularly more of their vulnerable sides, which yes was in the original series but not into the depth that this movie has exposed us to. When the characters were feeling sad, you felt sad, when they were happy, you felt happy. I loved that the characters have matured and grown up which is something I didn’t even expect to see. Also as a token Asuna fan girl this was the movie for me. She defines awesomeness, she defines femininity, and she defines girl power.
I cannot stress enough how amazing the soundtrack to this film is. It managed to pay homage and yet bring something new to the series. The addition of the character ‘Yuna’ and her songs are so captivating that has found me wanting to get the whole soundtrack when it is available. The music and soundtrack actually help tell the story in this film and give it an extra depth that sometimes anime movies seem to lack. Just for the soundtrack alone the movie is worth going to see.
Animation and Visuals
This film got it right. I cannot believe how they managed to create those detailed fight scenes and make it look the way it did. They kept you on the edge of your seat. Each fight scene had something different to offer the viewers leaving you wanting more and more. I personally don’t generally care for fight scenes in movies, but man I was intently watching the scenes and not wanting to turn away in case I missed a small detail. The animation itself has improved greatly, still taking on the original character designs and format but giving is a new sense of life.
A simple story with a lot of depth. That is the best way to describe this film. You don’t technically have to go and see the series to enjoy this film, but it doesn’t hurt. It is a film that you could go and see for the first time and then possibly re-watch the show as the movie makes you want to go back to the start. What I liked is how they managed to tie in the original series with what was shown in the movie, extremely clever.
I could go on and on about this movie. I had the privilege to see the movie when it premiered in Perth at MadFest and the crowd went absolutely ballistic throughout the whole film, likewise when the movie was released this past Thursday the crowd was taking it all in the greatness that is this series. Also without giving too much away the post credit scene made many, many fans extremely happy and I for one nearly started crying when I saw it.
This film for me is easily 10/10. I am not being biased just because I am an SAO fan-girl but as an anime viewer this movie managed to live up to the hype it was delivering. You can tell that the production company, animators, producer and director were listening to the fans to give them exactly what they wanted, for that I am grateful. I look forward to the English dub that has been announced for release next month in the U.S (will let you know when it hits our Australian shores) because I cannot wait to relive the magic that is SAO.