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*warning: a variety of spoilers follow*
I have been waiting months for this film to arrive and once it did, oh my gosh, it was absolutely worth the wait!!
Ordinal Scale is the first full length film set in the world of Sword Art Online, an anime that begins with the tale of 10,000 gamers trapped in a virtual reality “death game” called Sword Art Online (SAO). Of the original 10,000, only 4,000 made it out alive, among them Kirito, his girlfriend Asuna, Klein, Silica, Liz and Agil. Four years after the original death game concluded, in the year 2026, Japan is entranced with a new Augmented Reality (AR) device called the Augma that lets you fight epic battles (among many other functions, think of it has a futuristic version of Google Glass) in the real world. But curiously, monsters from the old SAO game are showing up, which shouldn’t be possible because the server for SAO was shut down when the game ended. Or WAS it??
There are many things I loved about this film, the mystery behind the Augma was intriguing, as was the revelation of who Yuna, the beautiful AI girl who serves as a “host” for Ordinal Scale really is (she has connections to the original SAO game).
And then there’s the ongoing relationship between Kirito and Asuna. To my surprise, Kirito is initially reluctant to engage in Ordinal Scale, which is unusual for him, he’s usually jumping in headfirst to a new game. According to Kirito, he doesn’t like Ordinal Scale because it doesn’t feel the same as a VR (Virtual Reality) game. Unlike VR, in AR your actual physical body is moving, meaning you have to be in great shape to move and engage quickly enough to win (there’s an embarrassing moment when Kirito runs to attack and ends up falling flat on his face after tripping on a curb). But soon Kirito has no choice but to engage in the game when something weird begins happening to the players who survived SAO…
It starts with Kirito’s friend Klein: during one AR battle, the #2 Ordinal Scale player, Eiji, attacks Klein and his friends. At a certain point in the battle, a node on their Augma devices glows and pops out , being sucked up into nearby drones used to project the game all over the city. Not only is Klein’s arm broken, but his memories of SAO (two year’s worth) are missing. And then the same thing happens to Asuna: while protecting Silica from an attack, Asuna’s Augma node is taken and HER memories of SAO (as well as two years worth of memories of her boyfriend) are taken away, devastating her and briefly casting doubt on her relationship with Kirito.
To get Asuna’s memories back, Kirito must become the top player in Ordinal Scale and along the way discover the truth behind this latest game (I won’t spoil it, but it’s really good).
My favorite part of the film comes at the height of the final battle when we’re finally shown something I thought we’d never see: Floor 100 of Sword Art Online (the original game was based on a castle made of 100 floors. The original game ended early on the 75th floor when Kirito realized that the leader of a powerful guild was actually the creator of the SAO game.) For this final battle, Kirito and company are transported to the Ruby Palace on Floor 100 and, even more, are changed back into the forms they possessed in the original game (which brought shouts of joy from the audience).The Ruby Palace is simply beautiful (and huge!!) with wonderful gardens around the entire structure. Inside the castle resembles a giant cathedral as it seems to be one very large room. The boss they have to fight on Floor 100 is insanely powerful and it ultimately takes every ally Kirito and Asuna have ever made to defeat it.
The story ends with something that’s been a long time coming: after getting “married” in the original SAO game, Kirito finally keeps a promise he made in-game and gets engaged to Asuna in the real world (they were 15 going on 16 in the original game, so they’re at least 19 going on 20 now).
But that wasn’t all….after the credits finished, we got a short peek at the upcoming Season 3 of Sword Art Online!!! It’s maybe 90 seconds long, but at the end, we get a glimpse of the latest VR world: Rath, the setting of the recently concluded Alicization Arc. No date was given but it is confirmed now that SAO WILL return!!!While the movie last night was a one night only event, I hope that eventually the film will be released on one of the streaming services so everyone can see it (I know the English dub is in progress). I’m not sure if the movie will be released on DVD here in the US, but if it is I will let you know.
Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale was an awesome experience, worth the wait and I sincerely hope there are more films to come!
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