Sword Art Online II Part 2 Review (Anime)

I’ve given Sword Art Online II Part 1 a glowing review and, as a big fan of the series who believes season two is better overall, the second part to Gun Gale doesn’t disappoint.
Without spoiling what happens in part 2 – which sees the Gun Gale arc come to an end – we see Kirito and Sinon battling against Death Gun who’s somehow found a way to kill people in the real world whilst he murders their in-game avatar. Kirito, who’s been assigned to find out how he’s able to do this due to his experience and survival in the death game Aincrad, spends his time tracking down Death Gun, helping Sinon come to terms with her own personal issues and, as Kirito is known to do, showing up others at Gun Gale by performing feats that haven’t been seen before.
Part 2 is where the action really gets underway and the lightsaber-influenced weapons and firearms come out in full force. There’re fights aplenty with a thrilling, heartpounding final battle with some even more tense moments to follow, and Sword Art Online really never lets up on keeping you on the edge of your seat. Sword Art Online gets a lot of flack for no good reason – it’s well-animated, well-written (although it may not be to everyone’s liking), has a great mixture of humour, slice of life and action, and a large cast who all get fleshed out and play important roles – without them, Kirito wouldn’t be as successful as he is at the MMO’s he plays and he’s aware of this fact. There’re a few heartwarming and emotional moments too, some which got a pretty strong emotional reaction out of me.
sword art online II Part 2 _2

A-1 Pictures have done themselves proud with the animation in Sword Art Online II Part 2, although they tend to always deliver high quality visuals, and this proves to be an absolute feast for the eyes that I’d happily rewatch for the animation alone. It looks great on both Blu-Ray and DVD but, of course, Blu-Ray wins out as it better brings out the colours and detail of the show and it damn well deserves it. The action scenes are top-notch and everything just comes across as so high quality that even if you don’t like the content of the story and characters, you’ll be hard done to say anything bad about the fantastic animation. The later battles are nothing but spectacular.
Covering episodes 8 to 14, there’s plenty to see here. I’ve covered the animation as a whole quite thoroughly in my review of the first part and so I don’t want to repeat myself, especially as most of that applies here as it’s still the Gun Gale arc. The focus on Kirito and Sinon is still strong, with Sinon’s character really coming to light here and she’s quickly become one of my favourite characters in the series and, perhaps, of all-time. The OP and ED remain the same too and they’re fantastic although I vastly prefer the ED – the visuals and song, Startear, just really hit me.
I think the English Dub for Sword Art Online is one of the strongest around with an all-star cast that really do justice to the characters. I’ve previously spoken about the great talent that is Bryce Papenbrook, Michelle Ruff and Cherami Leigh who play lead roles in the series, along with other notable voice talent, and Johnny Yong Bosch gets a large role in the form of Kyouji Shinkawa – Sinon’s friend in the real world. He plays the part brilliantly and so does Benjamin Diskin who appears as Death Gun. You already know I love the OP and ED but the OST isn’t to be left out in the cold as it’s a great listen and the composer handled the mix of heavy, solemn and upbeat music with obvious expertise.

Chances are if you’re a Sword Art Online fan, especially one who’s picked up the first part already, then you’re planning on buying part 2. Anime Limited have included a few extras including episode 14.5 which is a recap of the episodes before it, a handful of the animated shorts ‘Sword Art Offline II’, the original web previews and a textless ED. I love Sword Art Online and will be sure again to watch it in future and despite all the hate it gets, I think it’s a beautiful series that wholly deserves the popularity it has.

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