Spoilers beware. The film releases on DVD/Blu-Ray in Japan soon.
With the reputation of the show hanging between love and hate, many fans were either happy or angry that a movie for SAO was coming out, and I was among the former. The hype was real among myself and my friends, and we were wanting to go watch it. I bought our tickets and sat through the entire film, entertained and wanting more.
As with every new story arc of SAO, Sword Art Online is always somehow involved one way or another, and that was the case with the new characters and the new Augmented Reality device called the Augma, which served as a crucial plot device to this film. The film doesn’t spoil too much from the series, but it’s arguably better if you do watch the series beforehand, since they don’t do too much to introduce you to the main cast.
Every film is expected to have a antagonist that tries to go against the protagonist, but in this case, Ordinal Scale actually messes around with our perceptions of who the real antagonist is. Before the film started, Haruka Tomatsu explained that your perception of the film will change based on who’s side you take, and while I didn’t understand what that meant at first, I was taken back hearing Eiji’s backstory and his connection with Yuna.
As such the film basically overshadows most of the harem that Kirito had build over the series, and focuses only on his relationship with Asuna, which is a good thing. Yoshitsugu Matsuoka had explained that this film is basically a love story between Kirito and Asuna, and the odds that they go through in this movie basically changes them. The beginning and end scene were most certainly nice Kirisuna moments that, as fans, don’t want to ever end.
As Tomatsu explained, our antagonists weren’t actually that evil and only wanted to do so to bring back a loved one. Who wouldn’t do that for their loved one? Like Death Gun from Season 2, Eiji was just another insert character whom we can geniusly say was there. In reality, he wasn’t the antagonist, but rather the victim who was being used.
One of the most anticipated characters to appear in the film, Yuna. In Ordinal Scale, she is described as the cute songstress who sings during boss appearances, and has somewhat of a special connection to Eiji himself, who was ranked #1 at the time. Her reputation as an idol has spread not only to AR but in real life as well, attracting many new players to Ordinal Scale. The mystery that exists behind her is very well executed, leaving people to ponder whenever she’s a real person or an A.I. Eventually it’s revealed that she’s an A.I. based off of her creator’s daughter, who passed away during Sword Art Online. Her father had debated with Kirito on why the Amusphere is unsafe, thus leading to an antagonistic nature with them both. In the end, an unspeakable tragedy occurs, leading to Shigemura’s downfall.
One of the most memorable moments in the film are inserted towards the climax. The “real boss” in Sword Art Online’s 100th floor was finally revealed in a matter that deemed it invincible, and it was. For the final boss, it even defeated a raid full of seasoned gamers who survived two years in that world. With everyone using the Augma then, it made sense to have the comrades they’ve made along the way “cheat” into the boss fight and help defeat it. The hugest treat was the spiritual appearance of Yuuki, who helps Asuna deal the finishing blow, which pretty much ignited cheers through the theater I was in. The boss fight was the perfect climax to the story and served as closure for the survivors of SAO.
VERDICT – 10/10
The film is two hours long, and manages to fit in a ton of story into that slot. The story begins slow and the ends with an entertaining and high-stakes climax. Animation, voice acting, sound, and action choreography was amazingly well done. For long-time SAO fans, season 3’s teaser is something that everyone by 2018 will be looking forward to.