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?
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….
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).
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.
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.
We really appreciate a good plot.
And boy, did the “Extra Edition” definitely deliver on that plot.
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!
Just plot so well-sculpted and…
…visualized, y’know? You can almost feel the plot.
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….
We apologize for this inconvenience.
Your readership is important to us, but all of Moe Sucks’ writers are busy pleasuring themselves right now. Please wait for the next available writer.