I haven’t left a movie feeling so utterly uplifted in a long time! It was worth the waits – all of them – from the wait when I was thrilled to find out there was going to be a Sword Art Online movie to when I could actually buy a ticket to getting to the theater at 6 for a show at 8 to when it actually did start (for some unknown reason it didn’t start running until 830pm)! Yes, the feeling I walked away with was totally worth it. I hope my fellow SAO fans left as satisfied.
The plot of this truly full-length film *can* stand alone (for those viewers for whom the SAO world is brand new there were a number of flashbacks and moments of exposition woven into the plot to help give them a sense of understanding), but this movie was most definitely created for the fans, though not in a pandering fashion.
SAO the Movie is the culmination of several story arcs the anime fans have presumably already seen. So if you plan to see Ordinal Scale and haven’t seen much of the previous tales, do go watch them! It’s complete on its own, but you will miss the full impact of the emotional interplay between the characters if you haven’t spent time traveling alongside them through their long journey.
SAO has had its share of negative criticism of each of the arcs, but you won’t be getting any from me. I’m an anime enthusiast, not an anime authority. To nitpick this film would feel a disrespect to the good feelings it propagated within me. What I can say without giving spoilers is that I think what I enjoy most from the series in general and the movie in specific is that while the protagonists have face some very horrific circumstances, made all the more terrifying in that this all could potentially happen the way tech is growing, it never turns cynical. There is a strong thread of hope against all odds … and humor too.
Not even the comic heroes can be relied upon for that anymore.
(Though I am thankful to Marvel for teaching me to sit through the end credits…yes, that’s a hint.)