The majesty of fantasy and scifi that is Sword Art Online

I know I’m going to get some hate mail from anime fans out there for this post. But, I am determined to write this anyway. I LOVE SAO! I’ve watched anime since the 60s, and nothing has struck home to me like Sword Art Online. It’s fantasy, sci-fi, and video games… All wrapped into one. Like I said, it’s everything packaged neatly together for any anime geek or nerd. I fell in love with this anime the first time I watched it … The settings, the characters, the storyline. 

I can’t explain what it is, but I think its like having a great ensemble cast in a movie. When a group of characters mesh so well together, it’s like magic. That’s the way I feel about these characters. By themselves, they are interesting on their own but not something to wrap a story around. That’s why together, I just can’t get enough.

For anyone reading this who never watch Sword Art Online, don’t wait, do it now. It’s great for binge watching. But just in case, here’s the basic plot. In 2022, a virtual reality massively multiplayer online role-playing game called Sword Art Online (SAO) is released. With the NerveGear, a helmet that stimulates the user’s five senses via their brain, players can experience and control their in-game characters with their minds. 10,000 players log into SAO’s mainframe cyberspace for the first time, only to discover that they are unable to log out. Akihiko Kayaba, the game’s inventor, appears and tells the players that they must beat the game if they wish to be free. He also states that those who suffer in-game deaths or forcibly remove the NerveGear out-of-game will suffer real-life deaths.

It’s from that single storyline that this world was created… The years spent in SAO, trapped through the NerveGear; beating the game and escaping; Alfheim Online and freeing Asuna; investigating Gun Gale Online (GGO) and mysterious deaths; and more. This anime has every storyline imaginable built into this world. The power and draw of SAO, to me, is the believably of these stories. Their villains are quite real, and downright scary. The love is true and honest, even if every girl in this anime are in love with one man. It’s a complete story, from start to finish. 

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There are storylines within the SAO universe that makes even a grown man like me cry. In the SAO II arc “Mother’s Rosario” it was discovered that a terminally ill girl was using the “full dive” VR system to keep her from feeling the pain brought on by her illness. She died in the VR world surrounded by her friends. It was one of the saddest moments in the series. I never thought I would cry watching an anime, but that did it.

The other thing that is rather intoxicating about SAO is the music. Anime theme music is some of the best out there. I have an entire playlist on Amazon of just anime theme music. Eir Aoi and Lisa are two of the best in Japan and their SAO theme songs are just incredible. I mean, Eir Aoi’s “Ignite” from SAO II is like a James Bond theme in anime form. Just watch the video and you’ll see what I mean. Even the music from the SAO movie, Ordinal Scale, was just amazing, especially the final song. Again, tears…

The latest arc, “Alicization” and “War of Underworld” has been phenomenal with a whole new VR world, new technology, new (and old) villains, and what appears to be a wonderful conclusion to this series. Like I said, if you haven’t watched it, do so. From the series to the movie, it’s a great ride for any fantasy/scifi fan!

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Saturdays are the best day for anime because of My Hero Academia and GGO

dlbu_d0uiaagos5-1Most people would look forward to Saturdays because it meant the weekend, a day off, etc. Me… I look forward to Saturdays because that’s when the new episodes of “My Hero Academia” and “Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online” (GGO) air via Funimation and Crunchyroll, my two favorite anime channels! It’s like having my favorite Saturday Morning Cartoons like when I was a kid. These anime’s have heart, soul, and can be funny as hell. It’s amazing as to how entrenched I get into these shows, especially My Hero Academia.

I’ve been reading comic books since I was a kid. I actually wanted to be a comic book artist/writer when I was growing up. I wasn’t a good enough artist, but I still got to be a writer. Anyway, I’ve been reading teenage superhero stories, like forever, from The Legion of Superheroes to The New Mutants. Teenage superheroes dealing with their emerging powers and fighting super-villains has been a staple of comics for generations, but not like My Hero Academia.

First off, their powers are unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Sure, there are some mainstays like super strength, fire and ice creation, etc., but there are some unique ones too that this shows makes out to be quite powerful. I mean, shooting tape out of your elbows, causing people to become immobile when you taste their blood (gross) are pretty out there. But the characters are rich, so much so that you want to know more about them. The stories are so intense and gripping, it’s hard to turn away from them.

42159On the opposite spectrum is GGO. Sword Art Online was the first modern anime I fell in love with, especially the GGO section in SAO2. The new GGO has so much more spunk than the original. The little “pink devil” known as Llenn is a munchkin with an attitude. In real life, she is a tall teenager, wanting to be shorter like the other girls her age. She gets her wish in the virtual world of GGO. There she meets another female player, Pito, who she finds out has a death wish she’s trying to fulfill.

GGO is so much fun. Yes, because it’s an anime about a VR world full of guns, shooting, explosions, and bloody mayhem, it can be rather violent… But in a good way. It does it with such fun and irreverence to death and dying. Plus, the action scenes are pretty incredible sometimes, almost like watching The Matrix fight scenes. I mean, one of the first action sequences was Llenn popping out of a suitcase and taking down five opponents in seconds. That was awesome.

And just like My Hero Academia, it has great characters and very distinct storylines that make the anime flow perfectly. That’s what makes anime so much more than a cartoon. Yes, a lot of the characters in anime are kids, but to me, they remind me of me in so many ways:  Vulnerable, a little dense sometimes, wanting to do what’s right. It’s what makes them so much fun to watch.

My Hero Academia is a place where heroes exist and GGO is a world where anything goes. As a writer, it gives me plenty of inspiration for what I do. That what draws me in and makes them so much fun to watch! Tune it Saturday! It’s a blast!

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.