Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale is a nice little movie that scratches the itch that a lot of Sword Art Online fans have needed to have scratched for the long time. The last arc of Sword Art Online (The Phantom Bullet Arc aka Sword Art Online 2) was released in 2013, so that’s 4 years without any update as to what has happened with Kirito, Asuna and the rest of the group. While Ordinal Scale does give us more of what made Sword Art Online great to watch in episode form, it just didn’t feel like it was enough to satisfy that long of a gap.
Title: Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale
Production Company: A-1 Pictures
Distributed by: Aniplex / Madman Entertainment
Directed by: Tomohiko Itō
Starring: Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Kirito), Haruka Tomatsu (Asuna), Kanae Itō (Yui), Sayaka Kanda (Yuna), Yoshio Inoue (Eiji)
Based on: Sword Art Online by Reki Kawahara
Release dates: February 18, 2017 (Japan) / March 9, 2017 (Australia) / March 9, 2017 (United States)
Running time: 119 minutes
Rating: PG (Australia)
In 2022, the world of virtual reality was upended by the arrival of a new invention from a genius programmer, Akihiko Kayaba. Called NerveGear, it was the first full-dive system and with it, came endless possibilities to VRMMORPGs.
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, by the time Kirito decides to join them. They’re about to find out that Ordinal Scale isn’t all fun and games as a deeper plot unfolds around a mysterious couple of AI girls and the second best player in Ordinal Scale, all involving an old nemesis from Sword Art Online‘s past…
Kirito / Kazuto Kirigaya – Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Japanese) / Bryce Papenbrook (English)
The player who cleared “Sword Art Online“… the death game. Also known as the “Black Swordsman“. After the events of Sword Art Online, ALfheim Online & Gungale Online, Kirito is very against the use of the Augma VR device to the point where he barely uses the device nor plays actively in Ordinal Scale. However the events that happen during Ordinal Scale he begins to get more into the game to protect Asuna and his friends as reports of memory loss begin to appear.
Asuna / Asuna Yuuki – Haruka Tomatsu (Japanese) / Cherami Leigh (English)
A female rapier wielder in Sword Art Online and Kirito’s girlfriend in both the real and virtual world. Also known as “Lightning Flash“. Asuna is a big adopter of the Augma VR system and all the benefits that the device has to offer. She does keep her rapier in Ordinal Scale and makes sure to keep fit in the real world in order to keep up with her game character. She does suffer memory loss due to the effects of Dr. Shigemura’s plan to revive Yuuna Shigemura and fears what it could mean to her relationship with Kirito.
Yui – Kanae Itō (Japanese) / Stephanie Sheh (English)
An A.I. program in Sword Art Online, that monitored players’ mental health. She considers Kirito and Asuna her parents. Yui is promised a night under the stars by Kirito and Asuna. Yui does love the ability to bring herself into the “real world” through the use of the Augma VR device. She does a lot of research into Yuna and Eiji for Kirito during the later points of Ordinal Scale. However with Ordinal Scale closed at the end of the movie, she doesn’t quite get the night under the stars she wants.
Leafa / Suguha Kirigaya – Ayana Taketatsu (Japanese) / Cassandra Morris (English)
Kirito’s little sister and top-class Kendo swordswoman. In ALfheim Online, her avatar is a wind fairy. Leafa is still very protective of her little brother after seeing what happened to him in the real world during the events of Sword Art Online. She gets along really well with Silica and Liz in the real world and often hangs out with them in Dicey Cafe as well as Kirito & Asuna’s home in ALfheim Online.
Silica / Keiko Ayano – Rina Hidaka (Japanese) / Christine Marie Cabanos (English)
In Sword Art Online, she was a beast tamer who was saved by Kirito. Her familiar is a little dragon called Pina. In ALfheim Online, her avatar is a cat fairy. Silica doesn’t get much screen time, mostly being a bit of an annoyance in one of the Sword Art Online special battles against a monster version of her familiar Pina. She does have a passionate obsession with Yuna, to the point of singing her songs without needing lyrics.
Lisbeth / Rika Shinozaki – Ayahi Takagaki (Japanese) / Sarah Williams (English)
Nicknamed Liz, she is a master blacksmith, who forged Kirito’s swords in Sword Art Online. She is an excellent mace-wielder and Asuna’s best friend. In Ordinal Scale, Liz plays a tank style character and makes sure to shield all her friends in battles. Outside of that, she doesn’t get much screen time. She does tease Silica a lot in the real world, making her sing one of Yuna’s songs in the middle of a mall.
Sinon / Shino Asada – Miyuki Sawashiro (Japanese) / Michelle Ruff (English)
The best sniper in Gungale Online, an MMO with an apocalyptic setting. With Kirito’s help, she was able to overcome a childhood trauma. Sinon is the newest member of the group in the real world but doesn’t let it get to her. She provides long range support during Ordinal Scale battles with a rifle reminiscent of the one she had in Gungale Online. Sinon does have some sort of crush on Kirito after seeing him in action previously.
Klein / Ryōtarō Tsuboi – Hiroaki Hirata (Japanese) / Kirk Thornton (English)
A swordsman, who lead the Furin-kazan guild in Sword Art Online. He prefers Japanese style weapons and armor. He is loyal, quick-witted and a good friend of Kirito’s. Having played all the VRMMORPG’s along with Kirito and the others, as well as his own guild “Fuurinkazan“, he is an active player in Ordinal Scale. Still very headstrong and eager to jump into battle, Klein quickly falls at the hands of the Sword Art Online special monsters summoned by Eiji.
Agil / Andrew Gilbert Mills – Hiroki Yasumoto (Japanese) / Patrick Seitz (English)
He was a merchant and a fearless axe-wielder in Sword Art Online and fought alongside Kirito many times. He is the most cheerful and reliable of Kirito’s friends. After the events of Sword Art Online and ALfheim Online, Agil is retired from online gaming. Instead he works his job at the Dicey Cafe and enjoys his life with his wife. However he does allow his friends from Sword Art Online, ALfheim Online & Gungale Online to meet in his Cafe safely and offers advice when needed.
Yuna / Yuuna Shigemura – Sayaka Kanda (Japanese) / Ryan Bartley (English)
Yuna is an idol in the AR (Augmented Reality) world of Ordinal Scale. If a player encounters her in the game, they can acquire special upgrades. In reality, Yuna is the virtual representation of Yuuna Shigemura, a former Sword Art Online player who died during the “Death Game” era. Her Father, Dr. Shigemura created Ordinal Scale in order to collect the memories of Yuuna to place into Yuna, making her “live again”.
Eiji – Yoshio Inoue (Japanese) / Chris Patton (English)
Eiji is a mysterious young swordsman, who is the top ranked player in Ordinal Scale. Kirito and his friends encounter him during gameplay. Having developed a relationship with Yuuna Shigemura during his time in Sword Art Online, he helps her father Dr. Shigemura in gathering the memories of the deceased Yuuna from defeated Sword Art Online players.
Dr. Shigemura – Takeshi Kaga (Japanese) / Taylor Henry (English)
Dr. Shigemura is a developer and an authority on non-invasive BMI (Brain Machine Interface) research. He is also a professor in the Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department at Toho Technological University. Due to his radical theories on electrical physiology, his peers regard him as a crackpot. Dr. Shigemura lost his daughter during the events of Sword Art Online and uses his Augma device in conjunction with the old Sword Art Online server to create a virtual version of his daughter in Yuna via collecting the memories of Yuuna from Sword Art Online survivors.
Ordinal Scale is everything you need and more from Sword Art Online. It’s more of the same yet at the same time it ramps things up in a way that online putting out a movie can provide. The plot is interesting even though it’s the same thing that happened in a lot of anime of the same genre. The characters seem to either have learnt from their time in the previous games, or just ignored it completely. The introduction of Yuna and Eiji works well and the progression that the two take throughout the movie is what holds the whole thing together. Out of all the returning characters, I was most impressed with Kirito. Out of all of them, he was the one who went through the most change from Sword Art Online 2 to Ordinal Scale. Kirito doesn’t like technology and only jumped into things when he was pressured to by Asuna or when people are in trouble, only to find that his personal laziness has rendered him useless in battle in Ordinal Scale. This was amazingly realistic even though it was dropped mid-movie due to the plot’s needs. Also the callbacks to Sword Art Online are well handled to the point of actually being shocking… Then there is that tease at the end of the movie… ARGH!!!
The animation quality of Ordinal Scale is something to be cleaned up. Given the 4 years since anything Sword Art Online was animated you’d think that they would be able to keep the quality consistant, but nope! The animation, as you can clearly see from the screen shots used in this review, goes from amazing and detailed to Saturday morning Pokemon levels. I hope that this will be addressed in the eventual Bluray/DVD release down the line. Another thing that did get to me during Ordinal Scale was the plot. While there was a twist near the end that made it all tie together really well, you could see all the connections the second the new characters appeared and things began to happen. It’s a shame since things worked out so well in the end and there was the promise of more to come.
Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale is one of those movies where you get more of the same from a franchise that only has a few stories to tell before it’s run out of things to tell from it’s Light Novel beginnings. The idea of making something relatively new-ish from later content worked well for Ordinal Scale, but at the end of the day it just felt like more of the same with a predictable second half. But I’m not unhappy with seeing it, in fact, I was buzzing about it for hours afterwards and tried to track down as much information about all the things that happened in the movie as I could. I can’t wait for the Bluray either.
©2016 REKI KAWAHARA/PUBLISHED BY KADOKAWA CORPORATION ASCII MEDIA WORKS/SAO MOVIE Project
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Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale is more of the same, but that’s not a bad thing. Ordinal Scale gives progression of characters while giving us more action and drama that we have come to expect from Sword Art Online. If you missed the Japanese Subbed edition in the Theaters, make sure you either catch the currently playing (as of publication) English dubbed version or just wait it out a little longer for the DVD/Bluray, it’s worth it.