Blu-ray Review: Sword Art Online – Part 2

Sword_Art_Online_Part2_Screenshot3

The second instalment into the Sword Art Online anime series is here, but what does this second volume have in-store for Kirito and Asuna? And more importantly what do we think of this Blu-ray release by Manga Entertainment UK? Find out in our Blu-ray Review of Sword Art Online – Part 2.

Synopsis:

It’s been 2 years since the players of Sword Art Online have been trapped in this life-or-death adventure. As Kirito and Asuna get closer, Asuna starts to want distance from the Knights of the Blood, but her wish does not come easy. Kirito challenges Heathcliff to a duel to win Asuna’s freedom but is no match for him and Kirito ends up joining the Knights of the Blood himself. The Assault Team launches an attack on the 75th floor boss, but they find the Skull Reaper to be an extremely tough foe! Meanwhile, Kirito begins to feel suspicious of Heathcliff’s actions…

Our View:

It’s been two years since the events of the first episode transpired, which saw thousands of players trapped within the game world of Sword Art Online, since then the assault group have been slowly progressing their way through the games dungeons in hopes of finding an exit. However, with so much time being passed it seems the remaining players are contempt with living within the game world, including our main protagonists Kirito and Asuna.

Sword_Art_Online_Part2_Screenshot2

In Sword Art Online – Part 2 we find ourselves seeing Kirito and Asuna, the two main protagonists, getting closer together – so close in fact that they end up becoming married and owning a house in a peaceful area of Sword Art Online. This peaceful life is cut-short when an unexpected adventure arrives in the form of a young girl suffering from amnesia, which results in both Kirito and Asuna acting as the girls parents. Interestingly despite being an emotional story, and a chance to see Asuna’s more feminine side, this story ends up being cut-story which results in Kirito and Asunas life returning to normal on the front lines of the dungeons.

Due to Sword Art Online’s unusual pacing, something which I mentioned in the previous review, its hard to become attached to any of the characters other than Kirito and Asuna, as everyone that was in the previous volume have yet to make a reappearance in this second volume (other than Klein). Furthermore this second volume follows trends set by the first instalment, whereby a new character that has emotional-ties to Kirito (and in this case Asuna) is introduced but is quickly killed off in in favour of moving the story along. While this characters death is emotional, especially for our main protagonists, the viewer doesn’t get to feel any of it since they haven’t had time to get used to the character that has died. This seems to be a reoccurring theme in Sword Art Online, it happened in Part 1 and it happens twice in Part 2, so it is a shame that these character deaths don’t have a bigger impression on the viewer, especially when they can be considered part of the main storyline.

Sword_Art_Online_Part2_Screenshot5

Sword Art Online may have issues with its overall pacing, such as the length of each story arc or the time-leaps between each episode, but in this instalment of the series we have a mixed variety of brutal fight scenes, emotional backstories and golden comical moments that remind me of scenes from Naruto Shippuden. It’s a nice collection of episodes, and for once (despite the initial time leap at the start) provides a continuing story over a period of several weeks rather than several months.

Extras:

This second instalment of Sword Art Online contains some rather interesting extra features, especially when compared to the bare content seen on part one.

Sword_Art_Online_Part2_Extras

Included is six web clips, which are separated into two segments (Episode 9 to 11 and Episode 13 to 14) as well as the inclusion of the text less opening and closing songs, which were included on the previous part one instalment of the series.

  • Episode 9 – 11 Web Clips (14 Minutes)
  • Episode 13 – 14 Web Clips (16 Minutes)
  • Textless Opening
  • Textless Closing

There isn’t much quantity but there is quality, and this is thanks to the inclusion of the Web Clips. These web clips are a re-cap of the previous episode, but what makes them entertaining is that they are told by chibi versions of characters from the franchise.  Additionally these characters might bring up subjects that weren’t mentioned in the episode, such as their own personal feeling in that episode.

While these Web Clips will not appeal to everyone, as they are only available in Japanese with English subtitles, it is great to see them included as it provides 30 minutes of additional footage and a few laughs. To round out the extra is the text less opening and closing songs, which are exactly the same as the ones included in the previous release. It’s not the best collection of extras, but the web clips more than make-up for it, especially seeing as they are rather long.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50
Region: B
Running Time: 2:45:40
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio:  LPCM 2.0 2034Kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Aspect Ratio
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

The focus on this installment of Sword Art Online seems to be teamwork, friendship and love. As new relationships are formed,  teamwork is achieved on the battlefield and the conclusion being that Kirito and Asuna end up falling in love with each other, which results in some “classic” comedy moments. One particular moment sees Kirito accidentally squeeze Asuna’s breast and calling it “squishy” which in turn sees Asuna reacting by punching him in the face. It’s a scene that resembles one of Sakura’s outbursts from Naruto Shippuden and despite being slightly out of character for Asuna it strangely doesn’t feel out of place.

Sword_Art_Online_Part2_Screenshot8

This is just one of many comical moments viewers will find in Sword Art Online – Part 2 and overall it offers a different experience to the more serious treatment received in Part 1.Of course this second instalment still has a lot of serious topics to dish out, such as the reality of being alone in a high levelled dungeon and watching people that you care about die, something which Kirito shares with Asuna in the early stages of this release.

In regards to this Blu-ray release, which is being distributed in the UK by Manga Entertainment UK, the disc feels identical to the previous ‘Part 1’ Blu-ray release with the only differences being the episode list (which is Episodes 8 through to 14) and some additional extra features in the form of Web clips. The picture quality, subtitles, audio options and menu layout are all exactly the same as the previous Part 1 instalment, the same goes for the issue with the chapter points. Basically when you press “next chapter” you will be taken to the next episode as opposed to the next chapter mark, as most releases include five (if not six) chapter marks but yet again only one is included in this release.

Sword_Art_Online_Part2_Screenshot4

What you get with this Blu-ray release of Sword Art Online – Part 2 is a continuation of the series in High Definition with minimal extra features and basic playback. I assume the disc is just a direct re-author of the American Aniplex release but its still disappointing to see such a basic release. The disc aside the story is starting to evolve into a more unique series, but having a mixture of action, suspence and romance which blend quite naturally together – furthermore the viewer isn’t waiting long for interesting things to happen so it is a nice series to watch, that is if you can stand the constant “time-skip” between episodes but even that is reduced in this release of the series.

Score: review-stars-3

Sword Art Online – Part 2 will be available on DVD and Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack from the 27th January 2014.

Advertisements

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

One Response to Blu-ray Review: Sword Art Online – Part 2

  1. Kieran says:

    It is a shame characters are killed off so quickly, just as you’re getting to know them. But the development of the relationship between Kirito and Asuna makes up for that, I feel. I’ve heard mixed opinions about the web clips, but I thought they were great. I’m really looking forward to seeing where SAO goes from here!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: