r#101 – sword art online the movie: ordinal scale

Happy weekend new week, everyone! New week, new anime perspective, right?! Nesha here, and I hope your Monday night is going to be fun and full of enjoyment pfft though if you have planned to spend the night all alone in your dark bedroom, covered with blankets with your TV screen playing some animes, then why not? Plus, I may give you a decent anime recommendation to be watching tonight!

Right now, we’re going to be reviewing —not the latest TV series, but— the latest movie of the Sword Art Online franchise; one that takes place after the Sword Art Online II seasonal animation of the Mother’s Rosario arc, one that added three new characters, the one movie that adapted some elements from the ninth novel —which at the time of the movie’s release had yet to have been adapted into the anime. It’s called Ordinal Scale, and we’re going to break this movie down to know what is Ordinal Scale is about.

Let’s do it!


In case you know nothing about the backstory of Sword Art Online; it was started in 2022 when the world of virtual reality was upended by the arrival of a new invention from a genius programmer named Kayaba Akihiko, it’s called NerveGear and it was the first full-dive system to experiencing the endless possibilities to virtual reality MMORPGs. As a consequence of the evil construct planned by the game master himself, the game known as Sword Art Online trapped thousands of people and imprison them from the real world for two years.

Jump to the present, now is 2026 and the survivors of the Sword Art Online incident have moved on with their lives in the real world, including the leading hero and heroine who famous by the name of Kirito and Asuna, who are now planning their lives together while they’re applying for colleges. At the same time though, the breakthrough of technology has created a new machine called the Augma, which is developed to compete against the NerveGear and its successor known as the Amusphere. Breaking down like a nerd; this new generation of a wearable device doesn’t give the user a full-dive function like its predecessors and instead, it uses AR aka. the augmented reality technology to get the users/players into the game or whatever application they want to use it for.

But there are also a lot of games, and one which most popular on the system now is titled Ordinal Scale; an ARMMORPG that is developed exclusively for the Augma users. Though Kirito is having the difficulty to move on from the Amusphere to this new kind of new wearable device, Asuna and friends actually has already using it for quite some time —considering that unlike the virtual reality of the NerveGear and Amusphere, Augma is perfectly save and offers a user-friendly experience as it allows all the players to use their device while they are conscious, creating an instant adjustment between the virtual world inside the real world. But of course, not one application is actually safe, especially when there is a villainous purpose behind the creation of it … just like what happens to the Ordinal Scale!


Now of course, you will be more understand about anything if you have followed both of the first and the second season of Sword Art Online the TV series, but if you’re completely new to the franchise and never found out what is it about except knowing only a little from here and there around the internet community, then you can be pleased to know that the movie is kinda takes time at the start to bring you back a bit to the past and put a little spice of summarize about the original arc of Sword Art Online. These two huge arcs have managed to connect by the commitment of Kirito and Asuna in the past, promising each other to see a shooting star together in the real world —which is inspired by the opening chapter of a spin-off novel titled Sword Art Online Progressive. You may questions how this basic seed could make the fans of the fanchise understand about everything … well, it’s not; you won’t understand about everything, which is fine as long as you can enjoy what is happening in the current movie you’re watching.

Surprisingly, everything about the story grows from that point and connected to that one seed.

But wait, understanding the movie doesn’t mean that you could enjoy the movie along the way! Well, that seems to be the twist of the SAO Movie: Ordinal Scale, considering that it’s actually more enjoyable to people who never encountered the original series of Sword Art Online! As a matter of fact, most of us who have watched the series and invested time for the franchise long before the movie was released were wish that Ordinal Scale would have been created as a TV series rather than a movie, so it can deliver the story with the longer duration, developed more the characters, to even expand the environment where the story takes place. Moreover for us who kind of understand the basic technology of how the NerveGear works, experiencing a new completely different concept called Augma just seems a bit off since it didn’t explain enough about how it works.

Essentially, the movie does not live up to my expectation, being fuzzy and totally not prepared for its complexities, totally different from the previous main arcs such as the Mother’s Rosario or furthermore, the original Gun Gale Online with the Death Gun that will let you dive quite deep about its complexities; though yes, for people that are new to the franchise most likely will just constantly wondering at many things which enough to make them interested to follow the story. But then when it comes to people like me, we’re wondering for the completely different reason, especially when the movie explored the vast and prodigious the Augma device is. There are an exploration and development, or basically our time to accept that Augma exists —yes— but everything was just left out in the end; such as when Kirito attend on a campus forum and ask Shigemura Tetsuhiro —the creator of Augma himself— about the deficiency and drawback of his technology … it was a good scene but still, everything in the end is just lefted out without any explanation from the creator.

The basic plot and the broad concept of the movie —thankfully— is very good to explore and I can see it as a great reading material. While of course, the points and those few examples that I just mentioned above explains how rushed this movie actually is … but believe me when I say that surprisingly, the movie is not even felt rushed at all —Ordinal Scale was brilliantly managed to keep me interested in what will happen next after this and that. But once again I say this, Ordinal Scale is totally rushed! The movie didn’t even bother to explain how finally Yui could be translated and appears in reality since Kirito and Asuna in the previous series were still struggling to bring Yui into the real world, considering the fact that the technology of Augma and NerveGear are completely two different things, so it must be really hard to write out Yui’s application —who is basically an artificial intelligence— from one operating system to one that is completely different. So yes, it was rushed yet it didn’t feel like it; and again, it would be an almost perfect enjoyment for people who are new to the franchise.


But not only that which bothered me when I watched this movie, the weakest links of the story are the villains and their overall goal that relates to the completely new characters. Yes, sometimes we would be happy to watch an all-new character in a movie of the big franchise like Sword Art Online; I was excited though in the end, I was kinda disappointed. Even more when the movie introduced not one, but three new characters at once, and sadly they failed to maintain that feeling of excitement at the end of the movie. Well of course, there’s some of characters development, even enough to made me care towards the antagonists to the point where I curious if he’s really an antagonist … but then in the end, all the climax not reached the point where I could see more side of them, there is no burst of emotions when they failed, the relationship that has been established just crumbled without any touch of sadness, and almost every build-up finally ends with nothing … even I just felt the plain ‘oh moment’ when they reveal the reasons why they did all these evil things; it’s all presumed with almost no plot twist or any act of the characters that will move your heart or make you take a deep breath.

It’s a beautiful ending though, but thanks not to its characters development.

So, all the three new characters are as follows; a Diva Idol of Ordinal Scale named Yuna, a second best player of Ordinal Scale who goes by the name of Eiji, with also the third new character known as Dr Shigemura Tetsuhiro aka. the developer and the original creator of Ordinal Scale. It is a good variety of relevant characters, yet their performance is not how I was expected, though they would still be live up to the expectation of all the newcomers to the franchise.

Basically, I can see if this movie was intended more for the general anime viewers rather than the current fans of Sword Art Online —on that time movie was released. But it was so sad for SAO enthusiasts like me who are looking forward for an epic verdict overall of its first real movie with an all-new story to be told, when the villains are literally filled with one character who knows nothing and suddenly be kind basically over-powered without any reasons, with the other two who are obsessed to brings someone back to life from the dead … seems like a good premise but with mostly static scenes devoted to Kirito and Asuna, we can’t describe the antagonist anything but just the bad guys; there are no ‘wow moments’ related to them even though the franchise already known to deliver a great plot twists, there also no tears even though the movie was released under the genre of romance, while the word of “sacrifice” mentioned once or twice without any effort of expanding the twist from that point either.

On the other side, we sees the more mature Kirito and Asuna as they even planning to live together and introduce themselves to their families, and this footing comes with some little changes of Kirito’s personality though I could understand knowing that the event of Ordinal Scale taking place years after the original events of Sword Art Online. A few seconds of Asuna’s nudity was shown on the screen, maybe you should know —just telling you that Ordinal Scale is R+ rated anyway..,.. Though there’s a plus point for this, which is the relationship between Kirito and Asuna that is also more mature than before; just seeing them so supporting both in the real life and battlefield was so enjoyable to watch, they are almost like a perfect couple who balanced and complementary to each other.

visual and arts.

One thing first I would say to you, the choreography is so well done!

Well, it’s no longer surprising as this project has some strong action sequences to it spread out across the run, even more with some nice immersive moments with the concept of AR and VR being done very well plays the large reason of why the movie put me at every moment. The actions play to a few different things with largely stick to the fantasy side, so you could get some good blade dancing sequences that I’m always a fan of, even more with the gigantic monsters wielding gigantic large swords and swing it through the air so fast.

Well, it’s from the studio of A-1 Pictures, one that has done some very good work with the Sword Art Online TV series, and managed to take all the visual enjoyment from those to this one movie, even added more right elements to distinguish and state that Ordinal Scale is on an all new different —theatrical— level. The colour palettes are also gorgeous throughout without being oversaturated, even the details are strong and the well-handled of different movement animation of the AR scenes managed to stand out. While when it comes to the more static images without any actions or complex movements, quite many scenes were being shot with one or two characters on focus, full-scale or even intimate, especially when it comes to the interactions of Kirito and Asuna.

And so for the music, also totally one of the highlights of this movie. There are quite a number of songs actually has made this movie feels special, and almost each one of them is fit to when and where it should be played. Everyone could easily be enchanted by all of it, especially at the end part of the movie when Yuna the Diva sings an insert song titled “smile for you”, which totally had the potential to really beefed up her character’s tragic story. When it comes to the dialogue, I rated it as being too simple of course, though it has made everything more straightforward so the dialogues generally are right for the material and has come across with clean and clear throughout —which is a big plus for both the current and the newer fans of Sword Art Online. Because you know, nobody likes to listen to complex dialogues that are exaggerated, right?

closing – nesha’s final verdict.

It came back to the first evaluation I made at the beginning of this review; that in the end, even though Ordinal Scale was made mostly for the original fans of Sword Art Online for the obvious reason, but the movie itself was focused more on drawing more people to enjoy the franchise, whether it was being done intentionally or unintentionally. So for them, this movie could have been more than just about a game and a fictional concept to create an AI through the memories of someone who has died, which might have been seemed really cool for them. In many ways even, Ordinal Scale could have been a touching love story for them.

For people like me tho, though Ordinal Scale had an amazing concept to work with and does things that the other anime movies are unable to do, it only has entertained me in the first watch and I literally fell asleep when I watched it for the second time. They basically did everything half the way and the movie couldn’t deliver one element of its story at its best, they even seem just trying to make waves towards the existing manga and some potential TV seasons for the future. The visuals that I have told you how amazing it was even had its own flaws, there’s even one same scene which played over and over again though they actually could deliver it differently and present the audience with something that is more creative. So at the end of the day, this movie is totally not lived up to my expectation though I could see it would still be a great movie to watch for people who are new to the franchise.

additional pieces of information.

*material resources: http://www.sao-movie.net/AllcinemaANNOfficial page (en)Wiki (en)MALMAL (S1), and 

*this image is available to download! 😍

Maybe … I’m actually a fanboy of Sword Art Online at its core, so consider that possibility when you’re deciding if this movie worth your time or not. Though if you ask me, Sword Art Online always had been one concept that fun to watch, and I couldn’t even tell you if this one movie is not fun to watch. For my final verdict of the enjoyment of watching this movie, I could easily give this a solid seven out of ten while you may give it a higher score around eight or even nine. But as a movie reviewer, I totally just couldn’t give it a higher scrore than a six —though it’s sad but, that’s about it.

And lastly, I forgot to mention that after the end of the post-credit scenes, a text is shown and stating …

SAO Will Return!

And there you go, everyone! Of course, I will be doing the review towards the next series of Sword Art Online as well, though I don’t know when but I promise you to keep it posted. In the meantime, I urge you to keep watching anime, until we meet again with some other anime recommendations! See you next time, bai-bai now~

© content written by nesha5971