Sword Art Online “Extra Edition:” The Return of the King

SAO 2204

All of my readers know I’m the biggest Sword Art Online fan in the animangoblogosphere. I mean–hello?–have we forgotten my “Twerk for Asuna” donation drive that raised awareness for comatose MMORPG players worldwide? So imagine my surprise when an “Extra Edition” came out. Is it time? Are we ready… are we emotionally prepared to return to… Azeroth?

–sigh–

I was told this day might not come, but it’s okay, I’ve learned a few deep-breathing techniques to help me relax. But before we jump into the “Extra Edition,” which, trust me, we’re all giddy in the pants for, let’s do a quick retrospective on the original series.

To be able to blog all twenty-three episodes of SAO… it was a privilege. A privilege I won’t soon forget. No, actually, I won’t ever forget our journey from when Nobuyuki Sugou, the dreamy protagonist of the series (for those who haven’t watched the show), first stepped foot into ALO, to his triumph of the will over the bastardly Kirito. It has been a year since we last spent time with our friends in the anime, so I won’t blame any of you if the details of the show’s plot are a little hazy nowadays. It’s fiiiiine, I’ll do a quick recap for you guys! After all, I won’t deny that the narrative was pretty complex; the anime wasn’t called Japan’s Game of Thrones for no reason. But I urge you to rewatch the series anyway. Do it in a day. Just let the euphoria wash over you. Nevertheless….

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Kirito was this egomaniacal kid who was being bullied a lot in school, so he resorted to hacking an MMO into giving him super powers. Not only did he violate that sacred trust between MMO players and their developers, he tried to coerce our heroine Asuna into marrying him in-game. And like The Matrix, if you lose your e-virginity, you lose it in real life too. To further complicate things–and this is where the show borrows much of its inspiration from Korean dramas–Asuna comes from a prestigious family, and what would people think if she wasn’t a virgin at the altar (for anyone objecting to this sentiment, try not to bring your own bourgeois Western morality into another culture, alright?–that would be insensitive)? As a result, her parents had to give in to Kirito’s demands of an arranged marriage in the real world. That bastard was holding her e-v-card hostage.

Being Asuna’s childhood friend from when she was first conceived (that’s how you know their bond is real), Sugou wasn’t going to allow this injustice to take place without doing something about it. And as the saying goes, if you can’t beat’em, join’em! He’s not some mega lulsec hacker or anything though… oh, he just happens to be the greatest MMO player to have ever lived. But still, there was more he had to accomplish if Sugou wanted to save Asuna’s e-v-card. So he embarked on a 26-cour journey to become the Fairy King, the only title in SAO that would allow him to match not only power but wits with Kirito. After a grueling 10-episode clashing of the minds–one that would put Kasparov’s epic struggle versus Deep Blue in Go to shame–, our hero finally saved the day and Asuna lost her virginity to the right guy (thank G*d).

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What really amazed me about SAO was just the sheer amount of powerful emotions packed into every single scene and every single confrontation. When I first heard series director (and author of the light novels) Watanabe Shinchiro forced every member of the cast to employ method acting, I was like, “This guy is insane. He’ll burn them out. It’s unfair to expect a bunch of spoiled Hollywood voice actors to down heroic Garrosh just to portray some anime characters.” But that’s what they did, and oh how the fruits of their labor certainly paid off. During Sugou’s final battle against Kirito, I could really feel the desperation in Fukuyama Jun’s voice, the only desperation you could attain from having braved the infamous World of Warcraft battleground Alterac Gulch. And clearly, hours and hours of questing from 1-95 allowed Kugimiya Rie to portray a virginal yet comatose patient like no other actress ever has (eat your heart out, Meryl Streep!).

Alright, alright… enough recapping. Actually, forgive me for my impertinence above… because who on earth even needs a recap of Sword motherfuckin’ Art Online? This is the greatest anime ever made–… nay, the greatest story ever told. To recap the events of SAO would be to insult every single SAO fan out there. I mean, who amongst us haven’t rewatched the series at least once a week? Shit, I do it everyday. It never gets old! It’s a classic, a true monomythic, coming-of-age tale that only appears once in a generation. So for me to imply that SAO fans like you and you and you (and myself, of course) would require any sort of recapping of the original series’ plot… what an insult. What an affront.

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I can only offer up my deepest apologies for committing such a crime. Anyone who was brave enough to open up his or her heart and soul to SAO knows that the events of the anime are forever etched into the very fabric of his or her existence. For instance, I could never forget Sugou’s bravery in adopting the pre-op transgirl Yui as his child, knowing fully well the stigma of transgenderism in our modern day society. He took a heroic stand; one that really opened my eyes. I can only imagine how his actions will give other anime heroines the courage to come out as well. Akiyama Mio, Misaka Mikoto, Goko Ruri… it’s okay… we understand.

Thank G*d the “Extra Edition” didn’t make the same mistakes I made above. Y’see, A-1 Pictures respects your intelligence. In my haste, I personally failed to do so, but not A-1 Pictures. They don’t think you’re dumb nor do they think you have the memory of a titmouse. As such, they would never release something SAO-related where more than 80% of its content is nothing more than a recapping of the original series’ plot. I mean, that would take like… oh I’m just ballparking here… nearly an hour and forty minutes of runtime. SAO fans already know the plot by heart; recapping it would just be a waste of time. A-1 Pictures is not here to waste your time, and I’m thankful for that. ‘Cause y’know, we hardcore SAO fans appreciate a good plot.

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We really appreciate a good plot.

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And boy, did the “Extra Edition” definitely deliver on that plot.

SAO EE01

Some detractors will say that the “Extra Edition” featured nothing more than a low effort underwater quest where the group of friends literally fight one monster for half a minute before the hero plays his Gary Stu card and the rest of the quest is nothing more than a montage of still shots and a weird, old man speaking cryptically to a vagina dentata… *deep breath* …but to those people, I just have to ask… who hurt you? Why are you guys so cynical? Why are you guys so full of hate and bitterness that you can’t recognize the brilliance of the plot in the “Extra Edition?” And such juicy plot too!

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Just plot so well-sculpted and…

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…visualized, y’know? You can almost feel the plot.

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You didn’t think Miyazaki could raise the bar again, but he did. So sure, without recapping the original series, the “Extra Edition” amounts to just a handful of minutes. But that’s okay. I’d rather this than have A-1 Pictures insult my intelligence. And think of it as an hors d’oeuvre for the second season. Just imagine all the plot to come. I… I… hold on….

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37 thoughts on “Sword Art Online “Extra Edition:” The Return of the King

        1. E Minor Post author

          I agree, this post is definitely something else. So is this blog, if I may say so myself.

  1. Flawfinder

    So you decided to go all happy cam on this thing as well, huh? Still unsure if I’ll blog the second season myself, but I have some new styles of writing I could try out if I do so. Depends on what S2 brings.

    But seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a series so lauded by bloggers and yet so loved by the mainstream. Although none of them were fond of the second arc’s “edgy material”, all my friends who watch anime love SAO to bits. Dont have a single one who dislikes it.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      To be fair, it’s funny as shit. I was laughing a couple times as I watched the recaps in “Extra Edition.”

      Reply
  2. bure burebure

    you know, I’ve seen a lot of bad stories, in anime or otherwise. but usually, they are just bad stories, and even if they are bad, they still kind of sort of somewhat feel like stories that were written by professionals. maybe bad professionals, but still pros. sao is different in that it’s not just bad, but childishly, amateurishly bad, and even worse than that, it’s just plain *masturbatory*. i don’t know why, but this childish “otaku pandering” (with all the unfortunate implications that it brings) bothers me a lot more than any of the show’s bad writing. are people so shallow and unhappy in their lives that being an overpowered mmo player with a submissive waifu is somehow a compelling fantasy? i really don’t wanna believe that because i feel it’s too condescending and stereotypical to actually be true…but stuff like this recap only seems to reinforce that.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I don’t think SAO is that different. Lots of harems are childish, pandering and completely masturbatory. Shows like Hagure Yuusha no Estetica, for instance. SAO’s just fun to bash ’cause it takes itself so seriously on the drama front. In most harems, the male lead is an asshole, but whatever, the story is honest about the fact that this is just wank material. SAO’s ridiculous attempts at gravitas, on the other hand, is what makes it so transcendently mockable.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        question. Is this blog true i mean i watched every episode so far and kirito was the good guy, and I’m confused wtf this is, so what is this????

        Reply
        1. Shallow Pedant

          Are you absolutely certain you’re talking about Sword Art Online? Because it really doesn’t look that way to me, dude… You can catch this masterpiece on Crunchyroll

  3. IonCaron (@IonCaron)

    Funny, but I noticed that this seemed to be mostly fluff for a new post rather than an actual new post, which confuses me. Why wouldn’t you put up an actual full length new post rather than a cheeky recap of the whole series? It’s almost as if your review is trying to mirror something… Like you’re implying something about the Extra Edition… I can almost…OH BOOBS!
    Everything is okay, now. Nevermind.

    Fresh but nostalgic, E Minor. Makes me want to go back and reread your SAO blogs, and the BTOOM!! blogs just for a total nostalgia trip. Man the Skype laughs my friend and I would share reading and talking about your reviews while following you in the anime… Good times.

    Looking forward to more, mate.
    And Happy New Year

    Reply
  4. LamnaNasus

    Very, very entertaining post, especially considering I just stumbled upon it (first time here). A friend of mine insisted the extra 20 minutes were ‘brilliant’ and I can safely say I’m quite well off not watching this I think. I watched the original series, really didn’t like it. Not intensely but I get especially bristled when some of my mates try to tell me it is a ‘great’ show.

    From what I can tell, the sarcasm is intense with this one :D. Curios, do you dislike SAO because of how overrated it is, its characters are very bland, the writing and plot progression is terrible or just because its really wasted potential for its premise?

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Curios, do you dislike SAO because of how overrated it is, its characters are very bland, the writing and plot progression is terrible or just because its really wasted potential for its premise?

      A little bit of everything, but if I had to give one single reason for why I think the show’s terrible, it would have to be the fact that the story tries so hard to act as though it has emotional weight when it’s obviously a masturbatory tale with the sole purpose of fulfilling every one of Kirito’s juvenile fantasies. Even worse, this often comes at the expense of the other characters. Asuna used to be a strong, confident female character in the initial episodes? Somewhere along the line, she turns into just another pathetic damsel-in-distress waiting for her hero to save her from countless rape scenarios.

      Reply
      1. LamnaNasus

        “Even worse, this often comes at the expense of the other characters. Asuna used to be a strong, confident female character in the initial episodes? Somewhere along the line, she turns into just another pathetic damsel-in-distress waiting for her hero to save her from countless rape scenarios.”

        Well put. I felt really cheated to be honest regarding Asuna, especially after the whole SAO arc (before ALO). In the opening song, we get to see Kirito and Asuna take on the whats-its-name goat demon, but instead of letting Asuna be kickass in the show itself nooooooo, Kirito has magically obtained the ability to dual wield and render her useless. We saw that early on when they worked together it was decent at least, but that was it. She’s supposed to the this ‘Lightning Flash’ or something yet cowers behind Kirito and can’t even beat that Kuradeel guy OR anything else significant for that matter.

        Yeah she’s a Mary Sue and Kirito is a Gary Stu, fine. But to degrade Asuna all the way despite her supposed to be strong in-game and whatnot was in my opinion incredibly retarded. It felt as if they did it on purpose to stoke the male ego-ism and the ‘hero’ instincts of Kirito.

        Reply
        1. Arbee

          Let’s not forget that her “strong” personality is incredibly shifted from a mysterious girl with potential to be bamf to a tsundere cunt to a waifu, to a damsel in distress then back to a waifu with an ojou-sama complex.

          Just because she was strong once does not mean that her characteristics are overall strong. She fluctuates her character to instead become Kirito’s bitch, but the otakus don’t really mind. they are sticking to the fact that just because she was strong once makes her overall character strong.

  5. Arbee

    At first I was all, “This anime is severely sacrificing potentially proper characterization and world building involving what is real and what is not and surviving day-to-day trying to clear floors of an MMO Death trap:

    But after watching the Extra Edition, I finally realize how much I was wrong and think this is the best anime ever hands down. Kirito and Asuna forever!!! LOLZ

    Dear god, I fucking suck at sarcasm.

    Reply
    1. Arbee

      “This anime is severely sacrificing potentially proper characterization and world building involving what is real and what is not and surviving day-to-day trying to clear floors of an MMO Death trap with how much one guy goes on an epic protagonist power trip because everything is handed to him.” Sorry for making this incomplete.

      Reply
    2. E Minor Post author

      Man, haven’t seen you around in a while. But praise be to SAO. It brings us all together. Truly the Lord Savior of anime.

      Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          Yeah, it was mostly work that distracted me from anime for a while. Well, I also lost some interest too but that wasn’t the primary culprit. In any case, most of my old readers are gone now. Time to rebuild, I guess.

  6. eternia

    A shitty anime which is really fun to mock. I would have never found out about various anime blogs if it wasn’t for it. At that time, I was like, “What the hell? You guys like this? This is sugoiii?”, and then I googled around to find people who have actual brains. Found scamp’s, draggle’s, flawfinder’s, and yours blogs.

    The reason it is so much fun to mock, is indeed, how it takes itself too seriously. When it comes to show such as To Aru Majutsu no Index, we know that Touma is simply going to punch every bitches out with his right hand, and yelled about “I am going to erase that imagination of yours!!”

    What about our Gary Stu Kirito? At one time, he is a loner. At one time, he is a leader. Spending time with some old man he has just met. Blabber about stuffs all the time. Yet torment his opponent excessively. There is a part in the light novel where he talked about what is reality? what is virtual? Which took pages to finish. Oh, puh-lease…

    Reply
  7. Pingback: Summer 2014 Anime Preview: An eclectic mix as always | Moe Sucks

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