Allegiance: A-1 Pictures
Director: Tomohiko Ito
Intelligence Agency Report by: Rizwan Merchant
After the events of the Sword Art Online and Alfheim games, Kirito is called in to the SAO Survivor School to discuss his experiences in-game in relation to Akihiko Kayaba, the creator of Sword Art Online. Meanwhile, Suguha is learning to swim for an upcoming quest in Alfheim with the help of Silica, Lizabeth, and Asuna. The quest: to find a whale in Alfheim to show Yui!
Field Report by: Rizwan Merchant
In anticipation of Sword Art Online II’s summer release, a special movie recap of all major events in Sword Art Online was released on New Year’s Eve 2013. To help make it less boring for current fans of the series, roughly twenty minutes of extra footage was added to the movie. I actually thought the recap was presented in a creative manner, and it seems to fit the story line pretty well; it’s something that would likely occur in the months following all the craziness of the series.
The biggest complaints I’ve heard in regard to this movie cite two main issues: it’s a recap movie, and it’s nothing but pandering to the male audience with the swimsuit scenes. However, in my opinion, this recap actually moves the plot forward by showing a slice-of-life movie between two major events, Alfheim and Gun Gale Online. It’s meant to show the characters’ real-life personas and their actions after returning home from the games. The swimming lesson scenes add an opportunity for the stories of Kirito’s personal life—meeting his friends—to be told, since those stories are irrelevant to Kikouka Seijirou’s overall investigation. Yes, the scenes are fanservice, but it’s still an entertaining way to bring the stories out. Also, it brings Silica and Lizabeth back into the story’s focus, which has not happened since the Sword Art Online story arc, and their return is greatly appreciated.
The new footage for the Alfheim quest is pretty straightforward. All of our heroes from SAO are back, including Klein and Agil. The story for this segment is fairly simple: locate an item to beat the quest in hopes of finding a whale for Yui. This story is a welcome change of pace from the series’ usual intense, stressful, and dangerous adventures, and it helps set up the next season with the introduction of Kikouka Seijirou. There are also a few tidbits of information otherwise unavailable in the series, such as Kirito’s reason for taking on the mantle of “beater.”
All in all, the Extra Edition is a good bridge between SAOand SAO II, and it offers a break from the constant troubles caused by the games. However, while the movie is generally good, it is not essential viewing material before watching Sword Art Online II. Its main purpose is only to catch up those who don’t feel like watching season one, or to provide a little something extra for viewers who are really into the series and want more.