In 2026, a new machine called the Augma is developed to compete against the NerveGear and its successor, the Amusphere. A next-gen wearable device, the Augma doesn't have a full-dive function like its predecessors. Instead, it uses Augmented Reality (AR) to get players into the game. It is safe, user-friendly and lets users play while they are conscious, making it an instant hit on the market. The most popular game on the system is "Ordinal Scale" (aka: OS), an ARMMORPG developed exclusively for the Augma. Asuna and the gang have already been playing OS for a while, and soon Kirito decides to join them. However, they're about to find out that Ordinal Scale isn't all fun and games.
Directed by: Tomohiko Itô
. Starring: Yoshitsugu Matsuoka
, Haruka Tomatsu
, Kanae Itô
, Ayana Taketatsu
, Rina Hidaka
, Ayahi Takagaki
, Miyuki Sawashiro
, Hiroaki Hirata
, Hiroki Yasumoto
, Shiori Izawa
, Hidenobu Kiuchi
, Satomi Akesaka
, Ayaka Asai
. Music by: Yuki Kajiura
The first ever Sword Art Online movie takes place between seasons two and three. Kirito and Asuna are living their life as they always have, but now a new game has been released. An augmented reality game, making a clear breakthrough from the purely virtual games we're used to seeing. But, naturally, there's darkness lurking beneath.
An interesting premise and fitting for a movie that's supposed to be at least something of a stand-alone. A completely new game system allows our heroes to explore new ground, without impacting the anime plot too egregiously. And it's interesting to see how our heroes function when real life and game reality mix.
Unfortunately the execution of this idea leaves a lot to be desired. And I'm not sure what went wrong here. It's produced by the same studio and directed by the guy behind season one. But in every way that counts, it's worse. The battles are a lot slower. There's none of the impact, heroism or excitement that's evidently present in the anime. All the battles in this movie are a jarring mix of too fast cutting, pointless back flips, yelling and lackluster effects. Whereas in the anime you could see the strategies in every battle. It utilized slow motion just about perfectly and knew how to make characters look like proper badasses.
I'm also not a huge fan of how the movie makes Kirito and Asuna have an argument. I liked the romance present in the anime. I liked how the anime simply allowed them to be a couple, without extra wrenches thrown in.
And yes, I realize I sound like an old curmudgeon muttering that it was better before they changed it. But it was better! So much. Despite this film having a lot of the original talent behind it, it has none of the charm, coolness or weight of the original anime. Perhaps they were lazy, perhaps the studio intervened, perhaps they honestly thought they were doing something worthwhile. But whatever the case, this is a movie you can easily skip, whether you love the original anime series or not.
Review by Vartiainen from the Internet Movie Database.