This caught me by surprise both because I was in the hospital with limited internet access for a week and none of my usual sources knew about it. Then I saw an obscure link to an article on the internet announcing SAO2 would simulcast on Crunchyroll and two other streaming sites based in Japan. One word comes to mind: AWESOME!
Now let’s talk about SAO2, which is actually Season 2 of the Anime (feels so good to say that XD). SAO was a hit with fans on both sides of the Pacific from the start and actually had its English Premiere at Anime Boston 2012. I know because that was the very first year I was a panelist at Anime Boston so…yeah. I’d remember that detail (LOL!).
Anyway, in the first season gamers got stuck in the VR MMO Sword Art Online. Doesn’t sound so bad, does it? There is a catch, however: When you die in the game, you die in real life. Basically, SAO becomes a giant cage match. By the time Kirito beats SAO, two years have passed in the real world and 4,000 of the game’s 10,000 players have died. During the course of another year, Kirito is forced to enter the virtual world once again to shut down a copycat game and rescue his girlfriend Asuna, who is being held against her will in another game after SAO is cleared. For Kirito, Asuna and the other gamers who lost two (or in some cases three) years of their lives to the VR MMOs, time stopped for them while they were trapped in SAO. The emotional toll alone…whew.
That’s the spoiler-free gist of SAO Season 1. Now on to SAO2:
I’ve only seen the first episode so far (Episode 2 becomes available sometime this evening on Crunchyroll) but it does a nice job of both introducing the new plot and bridging Seasons 1 and 2. Here’s what I know so far:
A mysterious player called Death Gun has been shooting top players in a VR MMO. The thing is, the players he shoots instantly die in real life. And I thought SAO was pretty dark. At least this time it’s one person (so far) targeting players and not people getting trapped inside another game waiting to die. Anyway, Kirito is recruited to go into the game and find out if this rumored Death Gun really exists and if possible, find out why he’s killing people.
That’s prettymuch it so far.
Asuna appears throughout the episode with Kirito (except for Kirito’s briefing which happens during a flashback in the middle of the episode the same day) but it’s hard to tell so far what, if any role she will have in the new storyline. Ditto for Kirito’s cousin. Of course, this was just one episode of many more to come.
If you’re a fan of SAO in particular, now might be a good time to consider getting a Premium Crunchyroll account if you don’t have one already. For just $7 you will get to watch new episodes of Anime in progress an hour after they’ve aired in Japan. Netflix and Hulu Plus can’t beat that =D