Monday, March 27, 2017

Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale

Yesterday, after having my weekend staycation with my wife, we had some vacant time at around 4 pm and were juggling between going home to spend our evening or to go and see another movie. This anime movie had been promoted in the social media for few weeks but since I was not familiar with the series, I was a bit doubtful of whether to see it or not. However, when I saw the positive reactions of various people (and also the high rating), I was a bit intrigued. Therefore, we decided to go see this movie at CGV in the 4DX theater. Apparently there was some kind of promotion where the ticket for this cinema was almost half the normal price. Naturally we wanted to try experiencing the 4DX effects (we only tried that once when it first open many years ago). Anyway, let us get on with the story now, shall we?

Brief Story Line

Story was set in the year 2026 with brief explanation on the history of Sword Art Online (SAO) game played by many gamers using a NerveGear equipment to enter into the virtual reality world where the players can fight monsters, get to know other gamers and so on. Kirito (voiced by Yoshitsugu Matsuoka) was the number 1 player there but semi retired to the gaming world after that game was shut down. He did however still get together with other "survivors" like his love interest Asuna (Haruka Tomatsu), Lisbeth (Ayahi Takagaki) and Silica (Rina Hidaka). 

A new game with Augmented Technology where the gamers enter the virtual reality world while they were conscious (which was the main difference from the previous full dive technology when playing SAO) was now being introduced. Lots of people were really interested as it provided a lot of discounts or free coupons as they increased their level. The game was called Ordinal Scale (OS). In the game, there was an Artificial Intelligence character named Yuna (Sayaka Kanda) who was very popular as the characterization was made into a very attractive girl and very good in singing. Yuna was also the reason why OS was very popular in the gaming world.

As Asuna, Lisbeth and Silica were all interested in playing OS, Kirito was a bit skeptical. While playing the game in an already determined location, Asuna went together with Kirito. However, Kirito was not really good at it since OS required physical agility where Kirito did not have due to lack of exercise. There was a very good player named Eiji (Yoshio Inoue) who was able to hurt the "boss" and made Asuna easier to kill it. Eiji was ranked number 2 and was mysterious as no one knew his history.

The popularity of the game kept on increasing but there appear to be something not right about it and ultimately bring danger to the players. 

So what was the real intention of Ordinal Scale game creation? What did it want with the gamers from SAO? Could Kirito find out the mystery before the game brought destruction to all his friends? Find them all in this exciting adventure animation movie.

End of Brief Story Line

Hmm, this movie was actually fun to see. The characters were fun and interesting. The animation were done beautifully not only on the characters, or the action sequences, but also the background buildings, the monsters (bosses) and so on. I think the main attraction was also the great and cool fighting scenes with the bosses and especially the Finale fight which was awesome. Of course the effects of experiencing watching the movie in 4DX also gave additional exciting and tensed feeling during those fight sequences.

In addition to the beautiful animation, the movie also had some nice songs in it. One particular song sung by Yuna in the middle was very nice. The relationship between Kirito and Asuna was also interesting to watch. Another character that my wife and I loved was Yui (Kanae Itō) who was an Artificial Intelligence and like the "daughter" of Kirito and Asuna since she always referred them as Papa and Mama in a very funny way. 

The thing about watching this kind of movie which was adapted from light novel series written by Reki Kawahara and already made into 2 seasons of animated series and also games in various platforms, was that it required us to know at least a bit first. My wife and I were trying our best to understand the story at first, not to mention to get to know the characters since they were all brand new to us. What I am trying to say here is that, if you never know anything about the characters or the background, it would be best to possibly find out first, maybe by reading the novel, or see the series or whatever you need to do to better understand the movie. 

Hence, I can conclude that the movie was very good in term of satisfying the fan of the series as I noticed that most of the popular characters were shown in it and the love story between Kirito and Asuna also had some good amount of screen time. It was truly made for fans, but it was not a movie made for all audience or to attract new fans due to its rather "genre specific".

As a standalone movie, despite all the bit of slow understanding on my part, we could still enjoy the mystery and the fight scenes and also the touching moment before the end of the movie. Oh ya, before I forgot, there was a end credit scene (which also seemed to be addressed to people who already know the story). It should be interesting for the fans to see as it hinted to another sequel (of course!).

So if you are a real fan of the series or at least already know a bit of the characters, this movie should be very fun to watch. However if you are not familiar with the series but you are interested to watch the number 1 movie in Japan back in mid February 2017, you need to find out more about the story to give you a more satisfying experience.

Happy watching!

Mike's movie moments rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Note on 4DX cinema experience
In term of the effects during the movie, the 4DX theater was top notch. We could feel most of the effects especially during the fight scenes. However I think the seats arrangement were not too good between each row. I believe that they were not well placed (not "steep" enough) and resulted to people's heads blocking our views. Perhaps if the they could do something about it, then the experience would have been real perfect. Though I doubt that would happen, at least at the moment, since it would require additional budget to rearrange the seats. Other than that though, it was a real quality experience. 

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